Wine consultant Gil Lempert-Schwarz has abandoned a defamation lawsuit over allegations that he knowingly sold counterfeit wines - but he re-iterated that he was wrongly accused.


Gil Lempert-Schwarz, chairman of the Wine Institute of Las Vegas and founder of Hong Kong auction house Dragon 8, had filed the lawsuit in response to allegations from wine authentication expert Maureen Downey that he was knowingly engaged in selling counterfeit wines.

The claims were made both on the Wine Berserkers online forum and also, reportedly, at a wine event.

But, in a statement emailed to at the weekend, Lempert-Schwarz said a dismissal of the lawsuit against Downey would be filed ‘without prejudice’.

He added: ‘When proceeding with a serious defamation case of this nature, one has to weigh the costs of the process, the considerable time involved and the potential award for the damages caused.

‘Upon our investigation, we find it likely that zero funds are available to the defendant to pay for any judgment against her.

‘We have therefore chosen not to pursue this matter any further at this point in time. However, we do not waver in our original claims of defamation and we remain firmly committed to our business and our clients.’

The accusations and lawsuit are the latest stages in an intermittent war of words between Lempert-Schwarz and California-based Downey, of Chai Consulting and the recently launched website.

Downey previously told that she had insurance and was prepared to defend herself against the defamation suit, if it was served. ‘I can support my statements,’ she said.

She also questioned whether the lawsuit was a ‘PR stunt’.

  • Chelsea Snare

    Chai Consulting and Maureen Downey are pleased with the early dismissal of

    the defamation lawsuit filed by Gil Lempert-Schwartz and the Wine Institute

    of Las Vegas. The suit made numerous meritless allegations, and Chai

    Consulting vigorously defended against the suit by removing it to federal

    court in Las Vegas and intended to file motions to dismiss and transfer.

    Plaintiffs dropped the suit in less than twenty-four hours after its removal

    to federal court. The reasons given by Plaintiffs for dismissing their

    lawsuit so suddenly are as specious as the claims in the lawsuit themselves.

    Given that the plaintiffs capitulated immediately upon Chai Consulting’s

    mounting its defense, it is clear that plaintiffs dropped the suit to avoid

    having to litigate claims they know lack merit. Chai Consulting therefore

    views the suit, which was never actually served on Chai Consulting or Ms.

    Downey, as nothing more than a publicity stunt, and an effort to smear the

    sterling reputation of Ms. Downey and her firm. Should they ever refile the

    action, Chai Consulting and Ms. Downey are prepared to aggressively defend

    against the frivolous claims made by Mr. Schwartz and his company.