Nick Gravante of Boies Schiller has won over an appeals court that dismissed major claims in the squabble between founders of AriZona Iced Tea. John Ferolito, Gravante’s client and the co-founder of AriZona, was sued for $287M in contract damages by Domenick Vultaggio, with whom he co-founded AriZona's parent company, Beverage Marketing USA, in 1992. The state appeals court ruled that Supreme Court Judge Timothy Driscoll should have granted Ferolito's motion for summary judgment, rendering moot the major points of Vultaggio's case.
"Mr. Ferolito is grateful that the Appellate Division took the time to read the record so carefully," Gravante told the American Lawyer. "Faced with budget cuts and overwhelming caseloads, trial judges often do not have that luxury and, instead, sometimes rely on a party's citation to 'facts' that do not exist. Unfortunately, this was one of those cases."
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft’s Louis Solomon is representing Vultaggio. He did not not view the court’s ruling as a knockout blow to the case. According to a Newsday report, Solomon believes Ferolito is responsible for “waging war against AriZona.,” which the appeal court’s ruling does not address.
After denying summary judgment, Driscoll presided over an 18-day trial of the matter in April, hearing 11 witnesses and admitting 1400 exhibits. He had not ruled on the case before the appellate court ordered its dismissal.
Two separate matters are pending between the two warring tea-lords in New York, one seeking a valuation of Ferolito's 50 percent share of the company, which has been valued at up to $2B. The other seeks damages from Vultaggio of $600M.