Starving Lawyers and Oeniphiles Can’t Survive on $675,000.

Hat tip to Karin Moore at the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America for the developments up in Massachusetts.

Wow.  “Rare” wine collectors and their law firms are crying foul that they were awarded “only” $675,000 in fees and expenses for the 1st Circuit volume cap matter.  They have filed this notice of appeal of United States District Judge Zobel’s recent order granting the plaintiffs $615,000 in attorneys fees and $62,000 in expenses.   This despite  the National Law Journal quoting one of the attorneys here:   “Gerald Caruso, a litigator at Rubin & Rudman, said his research shows that Genesen’s fee award is among the highest awarded in the District of Massachusetts in a civil rights case.”   They want more.

So a statute designed to right the wrongs of a dangerous and oppressive government (think police brutality) is now  being used to reward those who fancy expensive wine with state tax dollars for a legitimate question about how Massachusetts set up laws to regulate small wineries.  Not sure that this fact pattern is what this civil rights statute was originally intended to address.  Judge Zobel has already helped oversee the fee request go from $2.1 million down to her present order,  I wonder if Judge Zobel can cut the fee more on appeal?

(earlier post)  Wine Companies and Wine Lovers seek $2 Million from Massachussetts Taxpayers

The aggrieved oenophiles and wine companies have filed their petition for attorneys fees after winning in the First Circuit.   Claiming 3,633 hours of work, the plaintiffs seek  $2,062,343 from Massachusetts taxpayers for declaring that the state’s facially neutral volume cap law treating big and small wineries differently was unconstitutional despite being upheld in Arizona and Kentucky.   Interestingly, the law firm seeks to be paid at 2010 rates and notes that this was a “test case.”   More tests to come?

A copy of the petition can be found here.

Leave a Reply