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Phelps: $30m award upheld

A San Francisco court has upheld an award of US$30m to the former CEO and ex-winemaker of Joseph Phelps for their share in the renowned Napa winery.

But the 18-month court battle is set to continue after the company signalled its intent to appeal against the decision of San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter J Busch.

Former Joseph Phelps CEO Tom Shelton died at the age of 55 in July 2008, leaving his wife, Laurie, and five children.

Two months later, an arbitrator awarded him more than US$12m, and US$11.85m to winemaker Craig Williams, for their share in the winery.

However, Joseph Phelps contested the decision, arguing that incorrect standards of law and evidence had been used.

The sum has now risen to US$30m, including more than US$2m in attorneys’ fees and interest accruing at 10%.

Forrest Hainline, attorney for Shelton and Williams, said of the most recent court decision: ‘Tom Shelton and Craig Williams built the Phelps winery and reputation.

‘I am pleased with the award, but saddened that Tom did not live to see justice done, and disappointed that Joseph Phelps and his cohorts continue to try to resist justice being done.’

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Written by Richard Woodard

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