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Preserving a heritage

July/Aug. 2010 California Country magazine




Following the successful resolution of a seven-figure lawsuit, the Filippi family winery in San Bernardino County is thriving under the guidance of Joseph Filippi and his son Jared.

Imagine you're the owner of a winery in Southern California. Eighty years ago your winery was surrounded by lush fields; today it's surrounded by developments—100,000 homes and a few acres of your grapes.

Your great-great-grandfather, Giovani, an Italian immigrant, came to California to make wines in the Italian tradition. You and your son are continuing that tradition today with award-winning wines such as your 2006 Velluto il Meglio ("finest velvet") Cucamonga Valley Library Reserve, one of several 2009 Gold Medal winners.

With the recession, business has been tough. But you and your family are survivors, having weathered Prohibition, the Great Depression and various floods and wildfires over the many years.

Then imagine you're served with a seven-figure civil lawsuit. That's what happened to Joseph Filippi, owner of Joseph Filippi Winery and Vineyards in Rancho Cucamonga.

Joseph is a board member of the San Bernardino County Farm Bureau and is insured with Nationwide through the Willingham and Frederick Agency.

When Joseph reported the lawsuit, the case was assigned to Nationwide claim professionals Bob Johnson (now retired) and Stuart Smith, who engaged the law firm of Cihigoyenetche, Grossberg & Clouse to defend the winery.

Said attorney Richard Clouse, "An unfortunate incident occurred, and there was simply a difference of opinion between who was primarily responsible, as well as the actual value of the loss. The decisions made by the (Nationwide) claims professionals allowed us to present a vigorous defense."

Because of court congestion, the case was delayed three times. Just prior to the trial the case was settled in the neighborhood of $20,000, paid from Joseph's Nationwide policy—and just a fraction of the original amount demanded by the plaintiff.

After the settlement, Joseph said, "I was truly relieved. You never know what it feels like to be sued for that amount of money. This lawsuit was hanging over my head, and I'm glad that it was resolved so successfully. I'm grateful to Bob, Stuart, Rich and Kathy Clouse—and Nationwide."

When he learned of the settlement, Joseph graciously offered a shipment of wine, which (reluctantly) we could not accept. But if you're in the neighborhood, we encourage you to visit the Joseph Filippi Winery in Rancho Cucamonga or learn more about them at www.josephfilippiwinery.com.

Contributed by Nationwide Insurance, which is endorsed by the California Farm Bureau Federation. John Valentine is director of sponsor relations sales and can be reached at 916-802-1785 or valentj4@nationwide.com.


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