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Richard M. Blau

Firm: Gray|Robinson
Country: USA - Florida

Practice Area: Food & Beverage

  • 401 East Jackson Street
    Suite 2700
    Tampa, Florida 33602
Richard is the chair of GrayRobinson's Alcohol Beverage and Food Department, and presides over the firm's Nationwide Alcohol Industry Team, as well as its Nationwide Food law Group. On the Alcohol Beverage side, Richard and his colleagues, including former regulators and licensing specialists as well as lawyers, focus on the federal, state and local rules, regulations, and business practices that govern the production, importation, marketing, sale, and consumption of distilled spirits, wine, beer and other licensed beverages within America’s “three-tier” system of alcohol regulation.  On the Food side, GrayRobinson’s lawyers and consultants have extensive experience in all aspects of food law regulation, compliance and litigation; Richard and his colleagues specialize in providing producers, importers, processors, distributors and retailers with the comprehensive range of legal services needed to overcome the labeling, compliance and liability challenges they face in this increasingly-regulated industry.

As a trial lawyer with over 30 years of experience, Richard has litigated jury and bench trials in state and federal courts. In the area of alcohol beverage regulation, he successfully litigated on behalf of manufacturers, setting important precedents for the industry in Geary Distributing Co. v. All Brand Importers, Inc. (imposing constitutional limits on the application of a state beer franchise law) and in Jim Taylor Corp. v. Guinness Import Co. (defining "brand extension" under Florida law).

Richard works with all three tiers of the alcohol beverage industry. He has represented international importers and domestic manufacturers, statewide wholesaler trade groups and regional distributors, and retailers (including multistate restaurant and hotel chains) across the United States. Richard and the firm's Alcohol Industry Team service retail licensees in a variety of ways, including liquor, tobacco and lottery licensing; health and food service inspection compliance; responsible vendor and employee training; representation in administrative proceedings; and litigation/dispute resolution.

Richard also works closely with representatives of state and federal government, drafting administrative rules and proposed legislation – both on behalf of clients and at the request of regulators. For example, he prepared an administrative regulation and statutory amendment at the request of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, to codify the impact of a judicial decision that he successfully obtained on behalf of a client. He has testified before governmental bodies, such as the New York State Assembly, regarding alcohol laws and related issues. Richard counseled legislators of Hawaii on the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Granholm v. Heald and recently testified before legislative committees of both the Florida Senate and the House of Representatives regarding issues relating to the direct shipment of wine.

Richard served for six years as the Chairman of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Beverage Alcohol Practice.  He also is an Industry Member of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA) as well as the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA) and the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association (NLLEA), and lectures on Twenty-First Amendment issues before regulators at annual meetings of all three organizations.  Richard annually compiles and edits the nationwide Survey of Reported Judicial Decisions Addressing the 21st Amendment and Related Alcohol Laws for the American Bar Association and the NCSLA.  From 1998 through 2006, he also authored the chapter “Beverage Alcohol Practice” for the annual Developments in Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice published by the American Bar Association.    

Awarded the highest rating assigned by Martindale-Hubbell (AV), Richard devotes a substantial portion of his practice to trade regulation, litigation and dispute resolution involving the hospitality industry. He has industry-specific experience in the areas of administrative practice and regulatory compliance, advertising and promotional law, intellectual property rights, importation matters, supplier/distribution relations, and alcohol industry business practices. Richard's proficiency has been recognized by Chambers and Partners (Richard is ranked "Band 1" for Food & Beverage Law), as well as listed repeatedly and currently in peer-ranking publications such as Super Lawyers and Florida Trend's "Legal Elite."

As a trial lawyer with over thirty years of experience, Richard has litigated jury and bench trials in state and federal courts.  In the area of food law, Richard recently defended Flava Puff LLC and CVS Pharmacy, Inc. against class action claims alleged by California consumer plaintiff Gregor Ghermezian that certain snack foods labeled as “natural,” which are produced by Flava Puff and sold at retail by CVS throughout the state, violated the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA).  Richard’s food law litigation experience also includes federal litigation; for example, he represented Hormel Foods Corporation in Kuenzig v. Kraft Foods, Inc. and Hormel Food Corporation (successful defense against a misleading labeling case brought in federal court by a plaintiff seeking class action status).  In the area of Alcohol Beverage regulation, Richard successfully litigated on behalf of manufacturers, setting important precedents for the industry in Geary Distributing Company v. All Brand Importers, Inc., (imposing constitutional limits on the application of a state beer franchise law) and in Jim Taylor Corporation v. Guinness Import Company (defining "brand extension" under state law).  

Richard has achieved the following peer-related accolades for his legal work:

Chambers and Partners – nationally ranked as "Band 1" for Food and Beverage Law
Best Lawyers in America – listed for Food and Beverage Law
Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory – awarded the highest rating (AV)
The American Law Institute – elected member
The Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys – elected member
Super Lawyers – elected member

Practice Areas

Alcohol Beverage
Food Law
Hospitality
International
Litigation
Medical Marijuana
Residential, Resort & Club
Restaurant









Gray|Robinson is a recommended firm in the following areas:

Food & Beverage - USA - Florida

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