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Southern Nevada wine distributors win court battle against rivals

Southern Wine &Spirits of Nevada and Maisons Marques &Domaines USA Inc. achieved another victory this week in their 11-year court battle against two rivals.

The businesses sued Chateau Vegas Wines Inc., a Nevada distributor, and Transat Trade Inc., a California-based importer and supplier of wines and spirits, in 2002. The lawsuit sought damages for sales of luxury-level gray market French Champagnes and Bordeaux wines.

In June 2013, a jury awarded the plaintiffs $2.2 million in damages as punishment for the illegal distribution of wine and Champagne.

This week, District Judge Mark Denton signed a final judgment that awards the plaintiffs $5.5 million. The award includes about $3 million in attorneys’ fees and court costs.

Attorneys representing the defendants in the case could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Gregory Balogh, president and CEO of Maisons Marques &Domaines, made the following comment in a statement released Wednesday:

“We see this case as a huge victory in the fight against gray market wine and spirit sales. We take tremendous measures to ensure the quality of our products and to build equity for each of our individual brands. Companies like Chateau Vegas and Transat Trade threaten this by choosing to sell potentially flawed signature products with no regard for the other brands in the line or the quality and integrity of the products that end up in consumer hands. … The decision in this case sends a clear message that this activity will not be tolerated.”

Maisons Marques was founded in 1987 as the U.S. sales and marketing arm for Champagne Louis Roederer and its California winery, Roederer Estate.

Southern Wine &Spirits of Nevada is a division of Southern Wine &Spirits of America Inc., the nation’s leading wine and spirits distributor.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer.

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