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Judge clears way for Jefferson bottles court case

A federal judge in New York has cleared the way for millionaire wine collector William I Koch to sue German wine dealer Hardy Rodenstock for fraud in the Thomas Jefferson bottles case.

Judge Barbara S Jones ruled on 22 September that the US District Court had legal jurisdiction to hear the lawsuit. Rodenstock had previously contended that the US court lacked jurisdiction.

Jones’ ruling came in response to Koch filing a list of what he claims are new facts supporting his allegations that the Jefferson bottles he acquired were counterfeits.

Koch says he bought four bottles, believed to have belonged to former US president Thomas Jefferson. Three came from Farr Vintners in London, and one from the Chicago Wine Company.

Referring to Farr Vintners in London, Jones wrote that Koch ‘sufficiently’ alleges that Farr was Rodenstock’s ‘agent for jurisdictional purposes’ when it provided Koch with the Jefferson bottles in New York.

However, Jones sent Koch’s lawyers back to the drawing board to redo part of his lawsuit. She is allowing the Florida collector to file new papers seeking to strengthen part of his suit.

She was unconvinced by Koch’s argument that the other alleged Jefferson bottle bought from the Chicago Wine Company could be linked to Rodenstock. She said the same thing of a 1921 Pétrus magnum bought from New York retailer and auction house Zachys.

‘The ruling means we live to fight another day, and we intend to continue fighting,’ said Brad Goldstein, Koch’s spokesman. ‘We will petition the court for discovery and shore up the other two matters concerning Chicago Wine and Zachys.’

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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