“Patron Who Didn’t Like Wine Loses Suit Against Retailer”

Now this is another one of those “anybody can sue anybody at any time for anything” lawsuits, with an exemplar of a possible result: You can lose.

This one always read like a Big Whine (yes, others first used that pun) anyway: guy buys fairly cheap ($12.99) wine from a retailer, doesn’t like it, sues retailer for “fraudulent inducement.”

Yes, this is one of those big HUH??? lawsuits. And although you’d think I picked this one up from the Daily News … no, no, no. This is important enough to have made the New York Law Journal, maybe because it also includes a charge of defamation.

The NYLJ begins this tasty little story thusly:

A Manhattan judge has dismissed a fraudulent inducement lawsuit filed against a wine store and its owner by a customer who bought six $12.99 bottles of a wine he didn’t like.

Civil Court Judge David Cohen also dismissed a claim accusing the White Plains store, Grapes, The Wine Company, and its owner, Daniel Posner, of defamation for calling the customer “a disgusting human being.”

The plaintiff, Philip Seldon, has written several books about wine, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine.” Seldon also attracted attention in the mid-1990s when he taught a night school class called “Getting Even,” about how to get revenge legally, according to a 1995 article in the Los Angeles Times.

Seldon bought six bottles of 2009 Cune Vina Rioja Crianza after getting an email promotion from the store. The email said the store’s staff was “very impressed” with the wine and that the “old world style of Rioja” is on a roll. It also touted the wine’s 91 rating from leading wine critic Robert Parker.

Seldon, after deciding that he didn’t like the wine, demanded a refund. When Posner refused, Seldon contested the charge for the wine with American Express. In an email to AmEx, Posner called Seldon “a disgusting human being.” Soon after, Seldon sent the store an email saying he would sue, explaining, “I have nothing better to do with my life,” and filed the suit.

On March 20, Cohen found that the defamation claim must be dismissed because the email was simply name-calling, not actionable defamation. And the judge found the fraudulent inducement suit must be dismissed because Seldon hadn’t alleged any false statements.

Methinks Mr. Seldon needs to read a book called, oh say, “The Idiot’s Guide to Stupid Lawsuits.” (Or he can read Sidebar.)

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