Koch loses US$12m in damages

1st April, 2014 by Rupert Millar

US billionaire Bill Koch has lost nearly $12 million in damages he had initially won in a lawsuit against a fellow wine collector.

A jubilant Bill Koch leaves a New York federal court victorious yesterday.

According to the Guardian, a federal judge, Paul Oetken, took the side of Eric Greenberg who had appealed on the grounds that the initial award given to Koch (above) was “exorbitant”.

Oetken said that while the jury’s initial verdict was correct, Greenberg’s conduct, “did not cause particularly egregious harm he was dealing in luxury goods marketed to a sophisticated and wealthy subset of the population.

“The harm was strictly economic, and the victims were far from vulnerable consumers. These facts merit a relatively low award of punitive damages.”

Koch took Greenberg to court in spring 2013 accusing him of selling fake Bordeaux, 24 bottles of which Koch had bought, including 1811, 1864 and 1865 Latour and a magnum of 1921 Pétrus.

The wines were sold to Koch at a Zachys auction in October 2005, Koch and Zachys settled out of court.

In April last year a jury awarded Koch $12.4m in damages and this has now been reduced to $924,321, Oetken also refused to allow Koch to recoup $7.9m in lawyer’s fees that had been accumulated over the three week trial.

One Response to “Koch loses US$12m in damages”

  1. First off – this is really not a loss, it is a detail.

    Bill Koch won a judgement against Eric Greenberg that concluded that Eric Greenberg knowingly perpetrated wine fraud on the Market. Greenberg is a fraud, a person who KNOWINGLY put counterfeit wines into circulation.

    THAT was the victory.

    The huge money the jury awarded was a shock, and testament to the fact that the members of the jury REALLY, REALLY did not like Eric Greenberg, who did a great job of displaying a less-than-pleasant character throughout the trial, or his fraudulent actions. For example, Greenberg was giving Koch, and oddly me, the evil-googley-eyes every chance he got – and the jury saw that. They responded with a shocking punitive response, that was really not expected to be upheld. But they had the right to do it, and they sent a STRONG message.

    Next up: Koch v. Royal Wine Merchants!
    MD

  2. David Boyer says:

    Wealthy people should not be targets of a judge’s misguided opinion any more than impecunious people, and this sentiment seems to come into play in this case. Also, invoking the American Rule (where each party is responsible for their own legal expenses, including attorney’s fees) is truly inequitable in this case. The fact that Mr Koch is wealthy should have no bearing on the outcome of damages, but it does, and to me it smacks of abuse of power by a judge that clearly is playing god. Or maybe he just drinks beer and doesn’t give a damn!

    David Boyer
    http://blog.classof1855.com

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