Rodenstock on the Run
This case of bottle fraud is heating up.
Unless you have been living under a rock in the wine world, you no doubt are familiar with the infamous Jefferson bottles that are the subject of a best-selling book by author Benjamin Wallace, not one, but two movies in development, and some real life courtroom drama that Hollywood only
wishes it could produce.
Well the saga continues. One person who has been doggedly determined to bring justice to bear has been William I Koch, who was the unsuspecting recipient of several bottles of Rodenstock "provenance" including four of the now infamous bottlings that were alleged to have been the property of none other than Thomas Jefferson himself, at least according to Rodenstock and whoever would chime in given the bottle's appearance, especially the "Th J" inscription (which was later revealed to have been etched with a mechanical tool, something not available in TJ's day).
But the big issue thus far has been jurisdiction. In Koch's original plea, filed last year, Rodenstock responded citing that the US courts did not have jurisdiction over him, the transaction, nada. Sort of a legal "Bronx cheer" if you will. Koch, who has now demonstrated his singular goal to have Rodenstock prosecuted, this drive evidenced by the cost of litigation he has already underwent versus the money he lost on the bottles (advantage lawyers), refilled citing that the agents who acted in Rodenstock's behalf, two of which are US based sources (Zachy's and Chicago Wine Company) which would allow for jurisdiction, i.e. Rodenstock was "conducting business" in the US, the transaction took place in the US, and the fraud took place, "in the US."
Now the tricky part is this; the judge, Barbara S. Jones, didn't give a green light per se, nor did she reject the plea on the previous grounds of non-jurisdiction, but she felt that Koch's team had presented enough of a case to continue, i.e. she sees that there may be a link to Rodenstock and the two American brokers, but it isn't as concrete as she'd like, or as organized, clear-cut, whatever. So she allows the case to remain open for now, and has instructed Koch's legal team to go back to the drawing board as it were, and strengthen up parts she feels need it. When a judge does this, they want the case to work, they believe you have a case, they just feel you have to shore it up a bit. That is really good news, as it indicates not only a solid case worthy of contention, but a judge who is willing to help. So really good news for Koch, not so much for Rodenstock.
So the case is in a state of limbo, though it seems the scales are finally tipping a bit towards Koch's favor. As best as we can tell, the judge deems the case to have some merit, she just wants a few things tidied up, some finer points magnified, and clearer links between Rodenstock, the bottles, and the brokerages that facilitated the transactions.
Get your popcorn, this will be good.