Their Boise-built still was months late, they said - and then it exploded
A distillery equipment manufacturer founded in Boise by two local brothers is facing more lawsuits, after several customers last year claimed they paid thousands of dollars but never got what they ordered.
This time, Corson Distilling is being sued by a temp agency, a repair business, a former landlord, a shipping company and a distillery owner. The total damages they’re claiming: more than $100,000.
Corson’s attorney said he was not able to connect with the owners this week to see if they were willing to speak with the Statesman. No one answered at the company Thursday, and a voicemail was not returned. The company remains active on social media and appears from its website to still be taking orders.
The new lawsuits
Corson’s lawyer said Thursday he wasn’t aware of the new complaints. The cases filed in Ada and Canyon county courts suggest the company is not paying its bills or, in some cases, responding to allegations in court.
- Boise company Onsite Services sued in July, claiming it repaired a piece of Corson’s equipment in September 2017, but the nearly $4,000 bill hadn’t been paid.
- Joseph Retzer, of Wisconsin, sued in August. The lawsuit claimed Corson hadn’t paid the $67,088 that it was told in June it had to pay as part of an arbitration. Retzer sought a court order to force the payment. A judge in Canyon County issued that order earlier this month.
- UFP Caldwell LLC sued in July. The company, based in Michigan, claimed that Corson didn’t pay rent for months on a 37,320-square-foot space it moved into in Boise in December 2016. Corson never responded to the lawsuit. So, the company filed for a judgment for the debts — which had grown to $57,875 by this month. A local judge has ordered Corson to pay it.
- Tradesmen Staffing also sued in July. According to the lawsuit, the company signed a temp-staffing contract with Corson in August 2017. The company said Corson failed to pay its invoices from November and December — $11,436, including $973 interest. After getting a letter from Tradesmen’s lawyer, Corson agreed this February to make installment payments. Corson made some payments late and others not at all, the lawsuit says. An Ada County judge in August ordered Corson to pay more than $5,600, plus thousands of dollars in fees, costs and interest.
- Pilot Freight, a shipping company, sued in February. It claimed Corson owed thousands of dollars. A local judge agreed in June, issuing a default order to pay about $4,800. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office retrieved the money from the company’s Wells Fargo account.
Arbitration not so binding?
At least four distilleries from around the country had sued Corson by late 2017.
Those lawsuits all said Corson failed to produce working equipment — or, in some cases, any equipment — after customers had paid for it. Together, they claimed at least $500,000 in losses and damages, and the deaths of two pet cats.
The Corson brothers declined through their attorney to be interviewed last December. They provided a prepared statement, saying they were “aware of, and respectful of, the concerns of our customers. Corson Distilling Systems stands by its products and prefers to work out any issues and legal claims in a court of law, not in the court of public opinion.”
The company responded in court to some of the prior allegations. But it mainly argued that its contracts required the complaints to go into arbitration, which is a private proceeding.
That arbitration didn’t work out in at least one of the new cases. That’s why Retzer asked a judge to order Corson to pay. Retzer told the Statesman on Friday that Corson still has not paid the judgment.