This Wine is Too Tannic—I’m Suing!!

lawsuitThere are pros and cons to the idea that the loser in a civil lawsuit ought to be required to pay the legal fees of the winner. The “pro” side of that argument was aptly demonstrated in this lawsuit, brought by a wine drinker who sued a wine retailer simply because he did not like the wine be bought from the store.

First, imagine the kind of marketplace that would be created if a consumer could return a product and get their money back if the product, though not defective in any way, simply didn’t appeal to the patron. Better yet, imagine the impact on the marketplace if a consumer could have their money returned if they didn’t like a particular musical or acting performance. And what of wine writers who recommend wines? What if they could be sued simply because a reader acted on a recommendation and didn’t like the wine? There would be no wine recommendations, no films, no music, no art.

Better yet,  imagine the impact on the number of lawsuits that would be filed if people like our unsatisfied wine lover in this case knew he’d have to pay the legal fees of the wine shop owner if he didn’t win his lawsuit? This would have certainly incentivized this wine drinker to come to his senses and not file such a dumb lawsuit.

The judge, upon throwing out the lawsuit, wrote the following:

“When the wine did not measure up to his subjective tastes, he decided that the wine was not as advertised. However, plaintiff has not demonstrated at even the minimum prima facie level that any deception took place, that there was any falsity or anything other than plaintiff’s assumptions were incorrect.”

The real kicker in this story? The wine drinker in the case has said he will appeal the verdict. It appears that the plaintiff in the case, who, before he sued the wine shop, told the owner of the shop, “I have nothing better to do with my life,” was true to his word.

7 Responses

  1. Charlie Olken - April 9, 2014

    Please note. Reviewers of cider are also at risk.

  2. Bill Haydon - April 9, 2014

    Interesting and somewhat confounding post. I can’t help but think of why the self-professed champion of The American Wine Consumer would choose to dig up an obscure and completely ridiculous nuisance lawsuit by a consumer, and one that was rightly thrown out of court the moment a judge (or more likely judge’s clerk) read it. I can’t think what purpose it serves in advancing the interests of the sanctified American Wine Consumer.

    Is it the guilty subconscious driven to expose one’s own hypocrisy at using the illusive “consumer” as a prop in an elaborate scheme whose ultimate aim is the toadying of favor with the winery industry, not to mention the bolstering of one’s client roster?

    Is it the Id writ large, proudly and defiantly smacking down that which it outwardly professes to love but really views as nothing more than a pawn in its grandiose game?

    Just when I think your postings have become rote and predictable, you turn around and throw this curve ball at me. Well done, I say.

  3. Tom Wark - April 9, 2014


    The only reason I wrote about this story is because I wasn’t yet ready to write about details of the search for the Higgs Boson and the implications of the discovery of this particle. But watch for that.

  4. Ron Marsilio - April 10, 2014

    I also was taken aback by this story when I read it recently. Being in the retail wine business I was just perplexed as to why the store just did not take his wine back, the unopened ones of course, they can always be resold. It was a frivolous law suite and the outcome was predictable, however, why get into a spitting contest with someone who readily claims, “I have nothing better to do with my life”. The wines were only $12.99 per and he only bought 6. OK, so he opened one that someone has to eat, but hey, do the easiest thing from a business standpoint. He may even come back to shop in your store, God forbid!

  5. Charlie Olken - April 10, 2014

    Do we know who the plaintiff was? I have been told that may be an octogenarian former wine magazine publisher. If so, the back story here could be fascinating.

  6. Tom Wark - April 10, 2014


    Philip Seldon

  7. Charlie Olken - April 10, 2014

    Unless there are two of them in the world, Seldon was, at the time I entered winewriting, the publisher of a widely read, for the time, magazine out of NY called Vintage. It had a number of very fine contributors.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Seldon ran it into the ground, and rather than having it expand into a larger readership, it disappeared into the muck of his attempts to produce a porn magazine and his being sued by one of his eastern writers for sending her a jar of urine–or so the story goes. He left the biz owing many writers a lot of money.

    Over the years, he has tried to relaunch himself into the wine business with no success, and his reputation is not the highest.

    I had heard a rumor that it was Seldon, and it is sad to have it confirmed. I rather liked the man until he turned deadbeat publisher.

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