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Court filing alleges Hugh Reimers conspired with Langtry Farms insider in illegal scheme to sell smoke-tainted wine

NOTE: In response to our inquiry into the latest news the Langtry-Reimers lawsuit, below is the complete, unedited text of an email sent to Wine Industry Insight late Tuesday evening by Singer Associates Public Relations. We have not had time to thoroughly process the court filings or contact either side in the litigation. However, given the timeliness, we felt it necessary to rely on third-party information. We will publish a more detailed original article once we have examined all of the relevant filings.

 

In addition, an informative article from the North Bay Business Journal is available here: North Coast judge denies release of wine held in smoke damage case


Judge Rules Against Reimers Over Smoke Tainted Wine

New Lawsuit Filing Alleges Secret Scheme to Reap Multi-Million Dollar Profits from Smoke-Damaged Grapes in 2020 Wildfires

 

Langtry Farms Winery Legal Filing Claims Wine Executive Huge Reimers used
“Inside Man” Eric Stine at Winery to Commit Fraud

 

(Lakeport California)–There are new developments in the Langtry Farms lawsuit against Hugh Reimers. Langtry Farms alleges Reimers and Torick concealed their use of smoke-exposed grapes and secretly used the Langtry winery facility during the 2020 wildfires.

 

A new legal filing from Langtry Farms alleges Torick Farms’ manager Hugh Reimers conspired with a then-employee of Guenoc Winery, Inc. to secretly process smoke-impacted grapes in a scheme to enrich the two partners at Langtry’s expense, ruining Langtry Farms winery’s oak wine tanks in the process.

 

Langtry’s filing claims newly discovered documents expose a clandestine plan between Reimers and former Guenoc Winery, Inc. Vice President of Winemaking, Eric Stine.

 

The suit claims the pair had “secretly partnered to profit from the sale of bulk wine made from smoke impacted grapes, using (Langtry’s) facility to carry out their scheme all without the knowledge or consent of (Langtry).” Reimers and Stine previously worked together at Foley Family Wines.

 

A proposed amended complaint by Langtry’s attorney Joshua S. Devore of the law firm of Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty was filed Thursday, August 26, in Lake County Superior Court against Reimers, Stine, and their undisclosed partnership.

A day later, Friday August 27, Judge Michael Lunas ruled against Reimers and Torick. “We appreciate the Court recognizing that preserving the status quo is appropriate in denying Defendants’ requested preliminary injunction, and look forward to proving our claims,” said Devore.

 

“As experienced winemakers Reimers and Stine knew the impact that smoke-tainted wine would have on oak storage, yet they intentionally misrepresented the quality of the grapes and wine to Langtry,” according to the complaint. Devore added: “Communications between Reimers and Stine have now come to light that we were able to include in the amended complaint. Those communications make the nature of Reimers and Stine’s relationship clear.”

 

The new filing claims “the Reimers-Stine collaboration had neither a winery nor alcohol beverage licensing to allow for the legal production or sale of wine. In order to affect their plan, the partners secretly utilized (Langtry’s) winery and resources. (Langtry) had expressly prohibited the processing of smoke-impacted grapes at its facility. Defendants did so anyway, at great cost and damage to (Langtry).”

 

The suit says the pair was only able to carry out their plans because Stine was the winemaker at the Guenoc Winery, managed deliveries of wine and grapes and “Stine facilitated the processing and shipments of wine through deliberate and coordinated concealment.”

 

The suit says “Stine’s role in the smoke taint fraud scheme as the “Inside Man” was the only way that the scheme could be executed without the knowledge of his employer (Guenoc Winery, Inc.),” according to the lawsuit.

 

Langtry claims that it took the winery months after Stine was no longer an employee–and through discovery–to uncover the nature and extent of this scheme. The company alleges it was hampered in determining Stine’s hidden relationship with Reimers because of “Stine’s destruction of thousands of emails, communications and documents from computer server prior to Stine’s termination in December 2020.”

 

The Langtry lawsuit claims that the secret Reimers and Stine partnership projected a 294% profit of more than $3.5 million by purchasing smoke-exposed grapes at bargain prices and secretly using the Langtry winery facility to process the fruit.

The suit says the “defendants engaged in misrepresentations, deceit, and concealment of material facts and knew their conduct was deceptive and illegal, and punitive damages are appropriate as a result, in an amount of at least three times their illegal proceeds, or not less than $10.5 million.”

 

Langtry’s claims against the pair and their undisclosed partnership include fraud, negligence, breach of contract, unfair trade practices, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of duty of loyalty.

 

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