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    A Fine Mess

    Kwik Shop sues city over tobacco penalty.

    AMES, Iowa -- Kwik Shop Inc., a convenience retailing unit of The Kroger Co., filed suit against the Ames, Iowa, city council claiming it acted illegally by imposing a civil fine against a convenience store whose employee sold tobacco to a minor.

    In its argument, Kwik Shop, operator of more than 170 convenience stores, claims the city imposed the penalty through the wrong legal standard and "was arbitrary, unreasonable and capricious in its actions," The Ames Tribune reported.

    "This court should enter an order declaring that the actions of City Council in imposing a civil penalty against Kwik Shop for alleged violations were ... illegal, in bad faith, and denied Kwik Shop its rights to procedural and substantive due process and equal protection," Kwik Shop claims in court documents obtained by The Tribune

    Kwik Shop's complaint is also asking that a judgment be entered declaring the council acted illegally by applying the Iowa law that defines, among other things, how compliance checks are administered.

    Earlier this year, an employee at an Ames Kwik Shop was convicted of selling a tobacco product to a minor. Iowa law states that if a cigarette permit holder or an employee of a permit holder is convicted of selling tobacco to a minor, then the permit holder shall also be assessed a civil penalty. According to the law, a $300 fine shall be imposed for the first violation.

    Court documents say at the hearing Kwik Shop presented evidence of its policy on the sale of tobacco products, its training programs used to combat the illegal sale of tobacco and its involvement in the community, the report said. The evidence presented by the city included a copy of the retail permit, the compliance check information and a copy of a citation received by a Kwik Shop employee, according to court documents filed by Kwik Shop's attorneys.

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