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Man out $85K for 138 bottles of wine after B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim

Bad deal over damaged wine shipment leaves man with nothing but sour grapes
(Black Press file photo)

A man who thought he paid $85,000 to a B.C. company for 138 bottles of wine won’t be getting his money back — or his wine — after the B.C. Supreme Court dismissed his claim.

In November 2020, Ontario resident Moez Kassam entered into a contract with Brian Gunsten for the ill-fated wine shipment. At the time, Gunsten was vice president of Dream Wines, a wholesaler and importer that sells wine to businesses in B.C. and Alberta.

Kassam and Gunsten had done business together before. In September 2020, Gunsten sold Kassam 18 bottles of wine for $50,000. Gunsten sent the invoice to Kassam’s company, Anson Advisors Inc. The invoice did not reference Dream Wines in any way and did not include amounts for GST or PST.

The wine was delivered via air courier to Ontario in October 2020.

Despite communicating through his company email, Gunsten conducted the deal entirely on his own. The funds were wired to his personal bank account and the wine at issue was not listed for sale on Dream Wine’s website.

Following the first sale, Gunsten offered to sell Kassam the 138 bottles for $85,000, but the wine was damaged and sent back. Evidence suggests Gunsten was seeking to obtain a return of the $85,000 which would be reimbursed. This never occurred.

Shortly after the sale, Gunsten was fired from Dream Wines for “moonlighting” as an independent wine salesman. Gunsten was a named defendant in the suit, but he did not appear in court. The court was told that Gunsten has declared bankruptcy.

Kassam attempted to get a refund from Gunsten. In March 2021, Gunsten offered to send Kassam $10,000 every Friday and a list of wines. However, only some money was repaid including a payment of $1,500 and another for $200 in April.

After failing to get his money back from Gunsten, Kassam attempted to hold Dream Wines responsible for the contract. Dream Wines countered that the contract was unenforceable as it was “tainted with illegality” for failing to charge applicable taxes. The contract also violated Ontario’s liquor control laws.

Justice Andrew Mayer wrote that the contract between Kassam and Gunsten was in his personal capacity, not as an agent of Dream Wines. Therefore, Dream Wines could not be held liable for any breach of contract.

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