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Antique Wine Co says $25m lawsuit dismissed in US court

A UK merchant facing a $25m lawsuit brought by a US businessman over alleged fake wines, including a bottle of 1787 vintage Chateau d’Yquem, has secured a court ruling to have the case dismissed.

The seal on the bottle of 1847 vintage Chateau d’Yquem, which has been part of the evidence used in the case. Image credit: Antique Wine Co.

The Antique Wine Co (AWC) said today (25 March) that the Atlanta division of the US district court for the northern district of Georgia has granted its motion to have the lawsuit thrown out.

District judge Richard Story ruled that, if the case were to proceed at all, it would be more appropriate for the dispute to be heard in an English court, according to a copy of the judgement seen by Decanter.com.

US property investor Julian LeCraw Jr alleged that AWC sold him several rare wines that he subsequently suspected were fakes.

In his lawsuit, which first emerged in April 2014 and sought $25m in damages, LeCraw claimed the list of fake wines included a 1787 Yquem, purchased in 2006 for $91,400, including insurance, and believed to be the most expensive white wine in the world at the time of the sale.

He also named a bottle of Yquem 1847, several bottles of Lafite-Rothschild stretching from 1784 to the 1906 vintages and a 1908 vintage Margaux.

AWC has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and it filed a motion to have the case dismissed in June last year.

AWC’s founder and managing director, Stephen Williams, this week thanked the merchant’s legal team for putting up such a ‘robust’ defence.

‘Despite our success in this litigation, AWC still hopes to resolve any dissatisfaction that Mr LeCraw Jr might have with our company, just the same as we would any other client,’ Williams said. He said that AWC has enjoyed an ‘unblemished reputation’ during its 25 years in business.

It was not immediately clear whether LeCraw Jr intended to appeal the court’s decision. An AWC spokesperson told Decanter.com that LeCraw had 30 days to appeal, from the date of the case dismissal.

The court ruling said that, as part of the dismissal, AWC must accept that it may face fresh legal action in England.

Updated 26/03/2015 to include additional information following Decanter.com obtaining the US district court ruling.

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Written by Chris Mercer

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