E&J Gallo and the two main culprits in the ‘fake Pinot’ case are being sued in California on the grounds of unfair competition, fraud and false advertising.
California law firm Kingsley & Kingsley has brought a class action suit on behalf of all California consumers against Gallo, as well as its suppliers Sieur d’Arques and the negociant Ducasse.
The suit alleges unfair competition, fraud and false advertising.
A French court recently determined that Gallo itself was a victim of fraud at the hands of 12 Languedoc-Roussillon-based defendants, including the above mentioned, who perpetrated a large-scale scam to sell Merlot and Syrah labelled as Pinot Noir.
Several defendants were sentenced to a range of penalties including fines and prison terms.
The new suit, which seeks unspecified damages, accuses Gallo of knowing the contents of its Red Bicyclette wine was not Pinot Noir, although the lawyers admit they have no proof of this.
The law firm, which specialises in personal injury, insurance and employment issues, says it is dedicated to ‘protecting the “little guy” against big business’.
The lawsuit charges Gallo and its French supplier with failing to take reasonable care and that ‘this fraud was only revealed by happenstance and the hard work of the French authorities.’
One London-based US lawyer said this was most likely a ‘strike suit’ – that is, one brought for its nuisance value on behalf of a small shareholder or individual with a view to obtaining a private settlement.
A spokesperson for Gallo said it was the firm’s policy not to comment on pending legal issues.
Nobody from Sieur d’Arques or Ducasse were available for comment.
Written by Maggie Rosen