Yesterday, Robert Parker posted to his site that the Wine Advocate is suing their former critic Antonio Galloni. They charge him with misappropriation of confidential information, defamation and fraud among other things. Courthouse News has a summary and Jeff Leve has published the full text of the complait to his site.
At the crux of the complaint, the Wine Advocate alleges that Galloni went to Sonoma on their dime and as the critic. (Apparently there are other pending reviews involving Burgundy, Brunello and Barolo.) I posted a few weeks ago that I thought Galloni should turn over whatever he had at that point and to withhold notes was petty and unseemly. In something of a defense, some people said that because he was an independent contractor, he might have been paid only upon submission of the material. However, the complaint states that he was paid a salary of $25,000 a month (plus $5,840 a month for expenses) for his duties to deliver certain material. The complaint alleges that he had a “secret scheme” to visit wineries “throughout the world” while developing his own wine reviewing business. In that business, the complaint alleges he will be using their “proprietary 50-100 point grading scale” and was authorized only to do so for their publication.
Since Galloni’s own web site has still not launched, it seemed a hasty decision to jump ship. As I mentioned in the comments of my last post, when he went to the Times to announce his departure from the Wine Advocate in February, it read to me like a giant “will work for food or Barolo” notice of his availability on the job market rather than an announcement of his own project. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. But one thing is for sure: Parker & Co. are making Galloni’s life difficult. Galloni has yet to reply to the complaint.
As to the Wine Advocate, the new editor-in-chief noted on eBob that they will be taking on “3 new very talented reviewers.” She cited “varying notice periods” the writers had to give their current publications as the reason for the delay in announcing their identities.