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A Different Type of Wine Shipping Case: Great Northern Insurance v. Cellar Advisors

Some interesting news from the last week in the context of wine. On the docket for this week:
Transport Company Sued for Over $2 Million Wine Shipment: Owners of a private wine collection, valued at over $2 million, being shipped across the United States sued Cellar Advisors, LLC. The owners, D. Gideon Searle and Nancy Searle, hired Cellar Advisors in June 2012 to transport their personal wine collection from Illinois to Florida. The wine arrived in Florida a month later, and workers noticed that the wines were warm and showed evidence of damage, thus suggesting the wine was not properly maintained or stored during the transportation. (See Transport Company Sued Over $2 Million Wine Shipmen; and Lawsuit Over Lack of Temperature Control for Wine.) The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by Great Northern Insurance Company, the Searle’s insurance company. The complaint sets forth arguments against Cellar Advisors on the theories of negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract. 
On the grounds of negligence, the complaint sets forth that Cellar Advisors owed a duty to the Searles to “receive, handle, transport, and deliver the wine collections with due care under the circumstances” and that the damages to the wine were caused by the negligence, careless, and acts or omissions of the defendant. (Great Northern Insurance v. Cellar Advisors.) On the count of negligent misrepresentation, the plaintiff alleges that Cellar Advisors made false statements of material fact to the insureds with respect to how the insureds’ wine collection would be “received, handled, transported, and delivers by [defendant] . . . in refrigerated containers,” and that the insureds entered into a contract with the defendant in reliance upon the representations made by the defendant. (Id.) As this is not your usual type of shipping case (i.e., direct shipment), On Reserve will follow the outcome of this case and post accordingly.

For more information on wine or alcohol law, direct shipping, or three-tier distribution, please contact Lindsey Zahn.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is for general information purposes only, is not intended to constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice.

Lindsey A. Zahn


Lindsey is the founder and author of On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog. She is an alcohol beverage and food attorney and is admitted to the New York State Bar.

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