The Supreme Court sided with the state Tuesday when it found beer and soda distributors don’t have a property right to the unclaimed nickels it collected back in 2009.

The lawsuit stems from a decision by the General Assembly in 2009 to take the unclaimed bottle deposits to help balance that year’s budget. 

But lawyers for 12 soda and beer distributors claimed that the retroactive taking of the deposits from Dec. 1, 2008 to April 1, 2009 was a violation of their property rights.

The Supreme Court disagreed. Justice Peter Zarella, who authored the opinion, concluded that “because the plaintiffs failed to prove that they had a clear entitlement to the unclaimed deposits attributable to the period from December 1, 2008, to April 1, 2009, the trial court improperly determined that the 2009 act resulted in an unconstitutional taking.”

Zarella continued: “Although the plaintiffs may have demonstrated that the special accounts in which the funds were deposited were opened in their names, that fact, without more, does not establish that they had a property interest in the unclaimed deposits.”

The judgment was reversed and sent back to the trial court.