Following an eight-day arbitration trial, we obtained a complete victory for our clients Amulet Estate, a prominent Napa winery, its majority owner, an affiliate of a large Canadian company, and principals and executives of those entities, in a dispute with the winery’s founder and former CEO, Andrew Tuck Beckstoffer.
Claimants alleged that Mr. Beckstoffer, a member one of Napa’s best known winemaking families, abused his position to defraud the company and its majority owner of millions of dollars, embezzling and converting winery monies to fund private jet travel, lavish home improvement projects, and other expenses he could not afford. The winery also alleged that he breached his fiduciary duties, and it sought extraordinary relief—to dissociate him as a Member of the LLC so that he could no longer interfere in the winery’s governance. Mr. Beckstoffer filed 17 counterclaims against our clients and sought approximately $8 million in damages.
On September 30, 2022, the arbitrator, retired federal judge Hon. Elizabeth D. Laporte, entered a 94-page final award that ruled for our clients on all claims and counterclaims between Amulet and Mr. Beckstoffer, awarded more than $5 million in damages, fees, and costs against Mr. Beckstoffer (in addition to approximately $1.3 million that he paid on the eve of trial), and ordered his dissociation from Amulet, thereby stripping him of any remaining rights to participate in the company’s management by virtue of his minority ownership interest. In her ruling, Judge Laporte found that Claimants proved by “clear and convincing evidence” that Mr. Beckstoffer “engaged in systematic, deliberate fraud, through ubiquitous and intentional misrepresentations and deceit,” including “serial lies to Claimants and Winery staff to cover up his fraud,” and even that Mr. Beckstoffer made statements during cross-examination at trial that Claimants proved to be false.
The Hueston Hennigan team includes John Hueston, Andrew Walsh, Marshall Camp, Samantha Schnier, Sourabh Mishra, Spencer Schmider and Zach Murray.
San Francisco Chronicle
Napa Valley Register