A few weeks ago I had the great honor of traveling to Chicago to co-present a webinar with Simon Fleischmann and Tom Cunningham. Tom and Simon are expert defense litigators at the Locke Lord law firm, and they have deep experience representing food and beverage companies in class action lawsuits around the country. I say it’s an honor because I have learned a huge amount about class action litigation over the past year, from Tom and Simon. For any company in a jam, I don’t think they could do better than to have these fine lawyers on their side.
The webinar is entitled “Spirits Industry Under Fire: The Threat of Class Action Litigation.” More than 125 lawyers and beverage executives tuned in for the live event. In addition, Locke Lord recorded the webinar. The audio file is here . It includes about 20 minutes from Tom (what the cases are about and why you should be concerned), 20 minutes from Robert (the TTB aspects, Tito case, and why federal approval is not a silver bullet), then 20 minutes from Simon (the first Maker’s Mark decision, and how to lessen the risks). This is followed by about 20 minutes of questions from the live attendees. You can also view the PowerPoint at the link, and download a booklet on the same topics. Overall this is an excellent way to bring yourself up to speed on the wave of litigation that has smashed up against the spirits and beer industries during the past year.
You will need to fill in a few fields at the Locke Lord website to access the webinar. The audio is high quality during most of webinar but it has some very rough spots, especially during the first 1/3 of my presentation. I do plead guilty to letting my phone buzz, but I am not sure what else could have caused the problem. The room was quiet and the microphones were good, despite how it sounds (in some moments it sounds literally like we are under fire or getting hit with a wave of litigation). It is easy to hit fast forward, rewind, and to jump around by sections. If you listen closely you can get a better idea who is likely to win and lose in these high stakes battles, and learn how to stay away from the problems that have hit Beck’s, Blue Moon, Tito’s, Beam, Bulleit, Maker’s Mark and a host of others. With scores of class action suits filed in the past year, just in the spirits area, nobody should be surprised or unprepared when the next suits hit.