SGWS Fires Back in Retailer Fraud Suit


Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits has hit back at a lawsuit
accusing it of fraud, unfair competition and other alcohol law violations.

You'll recall, the plaintiff James Nguyen, who owned the liquor license for Arena Restaurant and Lounge, claims he paid thousands of dollars in taxes for spirits that were wrongfully recorded as purchases from SGWS, and was blocked from "unfettered use" of the liquor license, losing the ability to resell or transfer it due to tax liabilities [see WSD 07-06-2017].

In a motion to dismiss, SGWS refuted each of James' numerous claims one by one, calling the entire complaint "fact-free" and "conclusion-filled." SGWS asserts that ultimately James fails to provide enough, if any, evidence to show the distributor violated its contracts or state law.

"All of Nguyen's claims are inadequately pleaded for various reasons, but the fundamental, fatal flaw of the entire complaint is the absence of factual allegations establishing that the scheme Nguyen alleges actually exists - let alone on a uniform, national level justifying class treatment," per the motion to dismiss.

The plaintiff has about another week to file its opposition to the motion to dismiss. In addition, a hearing is set for January 2018.

[Ed.'s note: We originally misinterpreted the court documents and declared this case dismissed, when in fact, it is still ongoing. All corrections have been made, we apologies for any confusion.]


The aftermath of Harvey is ongoing in your editors' home state, particularly in Houston, where waters rage and thousands are displaced from their homes.

Yesterday, we checked in on some distillers and distributors in the area [see WSD 08-29-2017]. Today we've rounded up some information on which retailers are still open, and included a bit of positive news from industry members pitching in to help.

RUNDOWN OF SUPERMARKET CLOSURES. As of 10:30 am: Kroger opened about 60 stores; Fiesta Mart opened about 26 locations; HEB opened about 63 locations in Houston but will close them around 2pm; Randalls closed 11 stores but left 18 open; Sprouts opened three of seven stores, according to The Houston Chronicle. Wal-mart opened about 170 stores and closed around 95.

HELP IS ON THE WAY. Both Anheuser-Busch Inbev and MillerCoors have begun canning water to donate to Houston, while Wal-mart and HEB have contributed to disaster relief via truckloads of supplies, per WSJ.

Texas-based Tito's Handmade Vodka is also lending a helping hand. The company is partnering with the American Red Cross and will match the amount of donations up to $50,000; using Tito's trucks to deliver supplies to families in need through the Austin Disaster Relief Network; and donating $10,000 to Austin Pets Alive, which has already rescued hundreds of animals from affected areas.

UPDATE FROM RNDC. We also heard from RNDC chief Tom Cole this morning, who says it's still pretty early to assess the damage in many areas, but they hope to be back in business "to a limited degree" in Houston tomorrow.

In addition, Tom sent out a letter to suppliers this morning to let them know that "RNDC had appropriate emergency preparedness response plans in place," and is prepared to assist both its associates and retail customers who were negatively affected by the hurricane.

The RNDC Relief Fund, which was set up 12 years ago today in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, is intended to be disaster relief for associates, and in turn, RNDC associates pass the kindness on to retailers.

"As soon as our retail customers are open to take orders, we will be there to serve them," writes Tom. "We have numerous testimonials from retail customers, where our sales staff has put in long hours to help retailers recover after past disasters like Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Gustave and Matthew along with the 2015 South Carolina and 2016 Louisiana floods. We have helped clean up damage, stocked shelves, run cash registers, provided food, and done anything possible to assist our retail and on premise partners," per the letter.

If you would like to make a donation to RNDC directly, you can find more info here, or check out Texas Monthly's exhaustive list of organizations helping in Houston area.


WX BRANDS' JAMIESON RANCH NAMES NEW WINEMAKER. Linda Trotta will be responsible for the Double Lariat and Reata brands in her new role as winemaker for Jamieson Ranch. Linda holds a degree in Enology from UC Davis and has 30 years of experience in winemaking at Gundlach Bundschu Winery and Swiftwater Cellars, amongst other leadership roles in the wine industry. Bill Legion, Jamieson Ranch Vineyards founder and spokesperson, says "Linda understands that quality is the foundation of the success of our Jamieson Ranch Vineyards wines...She is known for crafting wines of elegance and balance, and brings extensive experience with vineyard sourcing and grower relations."

SANTA BARBARA VINTNERS SEEKS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. Non-profit organization Santa Barbara Vintners is looking for a new executive director to "strategically lead, market and brand Santa Barbara financial independence, and build consensus among members, strategic partners and the community," per a release. The announcement comes after a strategic planning retreat held by the non-profit earlier this month and the start of a new board of directors term. The local organization will also be holding a series of focus groups this week to hear members' ideas about the future of the Santa Barbara Vintners.

Until tomorrow,
Your Editors

Emily Pennington -
Sarah Barrett -

"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

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