Carlin, Edwards, Brown &Howe, PLLC
Attorneys & Counselors at Law
Summer 2010
In This Issue
Family Comes First
Congratulations Scott Maul
New CEBH Website
Mandatory Online Spirit Ordering
Busy Days at the MLCC

Family Comes First

Catherine Rose Howe

This quarterly edition of the Carlin, Edwards, Brown & Howe newsletter starts not with a legal update, but with an important family update.  Patrick Howe and his wife Kara welcomed their first child, Catherine Rose Howe, to the world at 3:05 a.m. on June 27th.  Catherine weighed 8 lbs. 9 oz. and measured 21-1/2 inches.  Congratulations Patrick and Kara!

MLCC Announces Scott Maul as New Deputy Director of Licensing

The MLCC announced last week that Scott Maul, an Investigator since May 1996, has been promoted to Deputy Director of Licensing.  This position had been vacant at the MLCC for a few years.  Mr. Maul will report to Director of Licensing Sharon Martin, assisting in all phases of the licensing process.  Mr. Maul's enforcement responsibilities were primarily in the Genesee County area.  With the recent retirement of several members of the MLCC staff, Mr. Maul's appointment as Deputy Director comes at a key time for the MLCC.  All of us at Carlin, Edwards, Brown & Howe are excited to see him tackle this new assignment with the same energy and enthusiasm he brought to his enforcement work.  Mr. Maul's email address remains

Be Careful When Changing Your Liquor Liability Insurance Carrier


Michigan Compiled Law 436.1803 mandates that every retail licensee have Proof of Financial Responsibility on file with the MLCC at all times.  At its semi-annual meeting in June, MLCC reported that many licensees are experiencing a suspension of their license because their liquor liability insurance has lapsed.  Oftentimes, this lapse in coverage is a result of a desire to change insurance carriers.  In making the switch to a new carrier, however, the proper paperwork does not get timely filed with the MLCC.  When this happens, the MLCC computer will show a loss of coverage, resulting in the automatic suspension of the license until new insurance is approved.  Competition in the liquor liability insurance market has caused many licensees to "shop around" for lower prices, but without first checking whether the insurance carrier is registered and approved with the MLCC.  Before you change coverage, or switch to a new liquor liability insurance carrier, please be sure the insurance company and its forms and policies have been deemed acceptable by the MLCC.  Otherwise, you will learn the hard way when you attempt to place a liquor order and find that it cannot be processed because your license has been temporarily suspended due to a lack of insurance coverage.  You may also receive an MLCC violation for selling alcohol during the period of time your license was suspended.  That is the wrong time to find out you did not have proper insurance on file.  If you are considering a change in your liquor liability policy, please contact us in advance and we will make sure the proper paperwork is filed with the MLCC so you do not have a gap in coverage or risk a possible license suspension.

Congratulations to our Clients on Their Recent Openings & 

 License Transfers 
April '10 - July '10

Lucky's Pub & Grille



1701 Executive Cigar Bar*



Got Rocks Ultra Cigar Lounge*



Diablo's Tex Mex


 Red Robin
(Ann Arbor)
Boom Town
Rite Aid Pharmacy
(Cedar Springs)
Walnut Hills-Copper Restaurant
 (East Lansing)
Railside Golf Course
(Byron Center)
Quest Golf Course
(Houghton Lake)
Zanotti Imports**
(Battle Creek)
Carmella Foods**
*Cigar Bar Exemption
Carlin, Edwards, Brown & Howe, PLLC 2010. 
 All rights reserved.
 This Newsletter provides general information and does not constitute legal advice in any way. 

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Happy 4th Anniversary to CEBH
August 1, 2010 marked the 4th anniversary of the day Carlin, Edwards, Brown & Howe, PLLC opened its doors for business.  It has been a remarkably fun journey these last four years, and we thank our many clients for helping make this happen.  Like many of you, we have made adjustments to our business in an effort to weather the economic storm that currently exists in Michigan and throughout the country.  We don't need to tell you this is a challenging time for small businesses.  Because we share that perspective, all of us at Carlin, Edwards, Brown & Howe do everything we can to help our clients succeed in their business.  As your lawyers, there is no greater joy for us than to watch your businesses grow and prosper.  Our clients' growth and prosperity has allowed our firm to likewise prosper for these four years, and we appreciate your continued faith and trust in our work.  We thank you for a great four years and we look forward to many more years serving as your attorneys.  Four cheers for Michigan's hospitality law firm!

John B. Carlin, Jr.
Scott D. Edwards
Michael J. Brown
J. Patrick Howe
Check Our Our New Website

CEBH Background 
Visit our new and improved website at to keep up with what's happening with Michigan's liquor laws and other events in the hospitality industry.  We recently undertook a top-to-bottom overhaul of our website and we are very proud of our new contribution to the worldwide web.  Please feel free to visit our "News and Events" listing for important updates on hospitality law issues in Michigan.  We will soon begin blogging on our website to provide even more up-to-date web content on new MLCC policies and procedures, new liquor legislation, and other topics of general interest to our hospitality clients.  If you have suggestions on topics you would like to see us cover in the "Articles" portion of the website, or for your own publication, please contact us.

MLCC Mandatory Online Spirit Ordering System

Less Than 4 Months Away

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC), like many state agencies, is taking steps to become a paperless agency, and licensees better take notice now rather than later!  There are two online functions that are currently in place at the MLCC: (i) the Online Spirit Ordering System, and (ii) the Online Liquor License Renewal System. Licensees were able to annually renew their liquor license online starting in 2005, but surprisingly only 9% of all retail licensees renew their license online each year.  This is troubling news considering that the Online Spirit Ordering System will be mandatory starting on January 1, 2011, at which time the MLCC will no longer accept telephone orders or paper orders for spirits.  We anticipate that the online renewal system will eventually be mandatory as well.  This past year 16,974 Renewal Applications were sent to retail licensees, which is a huge drain on the MLCC budget and staff.  With the budget challenges and staff shortages that many state department are currently experiencing, we will likely see more and more online functions made available to licensees in the coming years.


With regard to the implementation of the Online Spirit Ordering System, Licensees should take steps now to prepare to make their spirits orders online if they don't already.  If your liquor license was issued after 2002 you were provided an online liquor ordering password when your initial license was issued.  If you acquired your license prior to 2002 or lost your password, you must request an online liquor ordering password from the MLCC.  As you can imagine, there will be a rush of licensees that wait until late December to obtain a password and familiarize themselves with the Online Spirit Ordering System.  Furthermore, as proven by the lack of participation in the online renewal process over the past 5 years, licensees seem to prefer paper over online processing.  The bottom line is - don't wait until January 1st to begin your online ordering!  Get familiar with the Online Spirit Ordering System now to avoid unnecessary stress and potential ordering delays next year.  If our Firm can be of assistance to you in acquiring a password or navigating you through the Online Spirit Ordering System, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Busy Days at the MLCC 
During its most recent bi-monthly meeting, Director of Licensing Sharon Martin reported some interesting statistics on the current workload of her department.  There are 19 employees in the Licensing Unit.  Ms. Martin reported that in a recent month:

       1,373 pieces of mail were received;

       331 first requests were filed;

       756 files were sent out for investigation;

       286 final packages were prepared;

       444 licensing files were submitted to the Commission; and

       3,300 phone calls were taken (an average of 291 calls per employee).


Ms. Martin remarked that the recently-implemented "Unit System" within the Licensing Department has allowed employees to be cross-trained on several aspects of the licensing process.  The efficiency gained by this cross-training has helped offset some of the loss in personnel due to downsizing, retirements and required furlough days.  Ms. Martin indicated at the bi-monthly meeting that the Licensing Unit will continue to look for other ways of increasing its efficiency and timeliness.


At Carlin, Edwards, Brown & Howe, we work with Sharon Martin and her 19-member staff on a daily basis.  We can make sure your matter is getting the attention it needs to keep moving through the MLCC Licensing process.  If you have any questions about the current status of a pending application, please contact us.

Upcoming Industry Events 

MLBA PAC Golf Outing

August 23, 2010

Mount Pleasant Country Club


MLBA Fall Convention

September 12-14, 2010

Grand Rapids


MRA PAC Discover Grand Rapids Strolling Dinner

September 20, 2010

Grand Rapids


MRA Restaurant Show

October 19-20, 2010

Rock Financial Showplace, Novi


24th Annual ULI-UM Real Estate Forum

November 10-11, 2010

The Riverfront Center, Flint