Collector sues for $1.7M
A Denver wine collector who once ran the nation’s fourth-largest health-maintenance organization has sued an insurance company for failing to cover his losses after a California wine vendor took his $1.7 million payment and instead of using it to buy wine, spent the money to hire female escorts, buy luxury cars and pay his daughter’s college tuition.
The lawsuit was filed Monday by Denver attorney Glenn Merrick in U.S. District Court in Denver on behalf of Dr. Malik Hasan and his wife, Seeme, against AIG Property Casualty Co. of Pennsylvania.
The Hasans are seeking compensation for the $1.7 million for wine, attorney’s fees, court costs and two times the covered benefit, the lawsuit says.
AIG has not replied to a request for comment.
Once called the Sam Walton of managed health care, Hasan created Health Systems International, an HMO with 5 million members in 17 states.
Hasan bought fine wines on consignment through Premier Cru of Berkeley, Calif., from wineries around the world. He paid AIG $12,000 annually for property insurance on his collection, the lawsuit says.
But AIG denied the claim because Hasan never actually received the wine.
Premier Cru was founded by John Fox, who bilked thousands of wine customers out of millions of dollars by not filling orders for 4,500 clients from around the world, according to records in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
Online and in his store, he sold wine referred to as “prearrival wine” or “wine futures” by ordering wine from European wineries and delivering it to clients six months to two years later, the lawsuit says. But Fox wrote bogus purchase orders, falsified the wine company’s books and stopped filling most of the orders in 2010, the lawsuit says.
Hasan always bought cases of wine from Fox on consignment, his lawsuit says, and although deliveries were delayed, they always occurred.
Fox faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 14, according to court records.
When Hasan learned that Premier Cru declared bankruptcy, he hired an attorney and fought to get his 2,448 bottles of wine. At the time, Premier Cru had an inventory of about 78,809 bottles of fine wine.