Saturday, September 30, 2023
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Collector Must Pay Up for Hawking Wine Forgeries

(CN) - A Texas man who sold his "rare" wine collection was properly found liable for deceptive trade practices when four of the bottles turned out to be counterfeit, a state appeals court ruled.

The London Wineman Inc. filed the lawsuit based on its purchase of five bottles of 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild from Michael Mewhinney for $6,000 per bottle.

Donald Kurtz, president of The London Wineman, inspected the bottles before purchase. An auction house representative, who was also there, noted that one of the bottles looked different than the other four. He thought the foil capsule looked newer than the other four. He checked the cork and it was branded "1945."

Kurtz bought the wine and shipped it to the auction house. Another employee of the auction house examined the bottles and found that the other four bottles had corks that were branded "1955."

When Kurtz protested, Mewhinney said he had purchased the bottles from Chicago Wine Co., and that Kurtz should take up the issue with them. Kurtz wanted Mewhinney to void the purchase.

A jury eventually sided with The London Wineman in a suit for negligent misrepresentation and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Mewhinney appealed, but he found no success in Texas' Dallas-based Fifth District Court of Appeals.

The court's three-judge panel cited expert evidence that the labels looked like they had been photocopied and that the labels were in two pieces instead of the correct one-piece label.

"This testimony provides more than a scintilla of evidence to show that the wine the London Wineman bought was not the 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild the company believed it was purchasing," Judge Joseph Morris wrote for the court.

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