This one's going to pull at your heartstrings. It concerns an overlooked group of victims of Hurricane Sandy who may have suffered enormous losses into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars from the deluge. Can you feel the pity welling up yet?
Who are these people? They're super-rich folks, the type who have really valuable wine collections so precious that they entrusted their treasured vintages to a special wine cellar for safekeeping.
For the New York high-flyers who entrusted their vintage wines to a
high-tech Manhattan storage cellar, 24-hour security and a video
surveillance system seemed to guarantee the safety of their treasured
But several wealthy oenophiles are now suing the WineCare
warehouse because they have not been allowed access to their Bollinger,
Barolo and Chateauneuf-du-Pape for several months. Some even fear their
multi-million-dollar collections may have been destroyed.
WineCare stored wine in cellars cooled to 55F (12.7 C), with humidity
maintained to 60 per cent, the best conditions for vintage bottles.
Clients could use a computer program to track each bottle in the 27,000
cases. A daily delivery service to dinner parties was part of the
But the facility was also just 100 yards from the Hudson
River. And when the storm's winds whipped up a record-breaking tidal
surge, the cellar flooded.
So, who is going after the company? People like these:
They include Donald Drapkin, a hedge fund executive who estimated the
value of his collection there at $US5.2 million, Philip Waterman, a
property investor with wine valued at $US300,000 at the site, and Lucio
Noto, former vice-chairman of Exxon Mobil.
Keith McNally, a British restaurateur who runs some of the
city's choicest eateries, is seeking $US3 million in compensation and
damages because he said two of his outlets were forced to buy top-shelf
replacement wines at full price to satisfy customers. In his suit, he
described his 1500-case collection as "unique and not replaceable".
Robert Gerber, the federal bankruptcy judge, has at times sounded less
than sympathetic about the plight of both sides as a result of a natural
disaster that cost 44 lives and destroyed more than 300,000 homes.
"There were thousands of victims of Hurricane Sandy, most of whom
suffered a great deal more than your clients," he noted exasperatedly at
one hearing after complaining about the speed of response from lawyers.