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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Jennifer Esposito's Gluten-free Empire in Flames

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Will actress Jennifer Esposito's gluten-free empire survive lawsuit? Photo: Wiki Media Commons--David of Earth (NY)

    Celiac.com 03/21/2016 - Claims, counterclaims and a lawsuit have engulfed the gluten-free empire of actress Jennifer Esposito, and the people suing her include her new husband, British model Louis Dowler.

    Photo: Wiki Media Commons--David of Earth (NY)The former "Blue Bloods" star opened Jennifer's Way bakery in 2012, after being diagnosed with celiac disease. Her small business empire includes the bakery and an online business selling gluten-free bagels, cookies and rolls.

    The ex-wife of actor Bradley Cooper, Esposito is facing a $43 million lawsuit from her investment partners, who include Lawrence Wenner and David Drake, and her new husband, Dowler. The bakery remains open, but online sales flatlined, the lawsuit alleges, after the website was "hijacked" and redirected to the actress's personal blog.

    According to court documents, her business partners, Lawrence Wenner and David Drake sank $250,000 each into the business and then loaned $1 million to establish a commercial plant in Queens to bake and ship orders, in addition to the retail shop that sold products made on site.

    According to the investors, Esposito failed to transfer ownership of the East Village bakery to the newly formed company, Jennifer's Way Inc., and has been uncooperative, and publicly combative. Wenner and Drake allege they were unable to obtain a needed loan because Esposito refused to cooperate.

    As if a $43 million lawsuit isn't enough, things got even more exciting recently when, after making posts on Facebook to the effect that she could no longer vouch for the gluten-free status of the company's products, Esposito was served with a restraining order forbidding her from bad-mouthing the investors, according to the New York Post.

    Court documents charge that "Esposito has instilled and promoted a groundless and downright false sense of fear that the very same products with the same recipes, coming from the same facility, that she once stood behind, are now unsafe to consume."

    According to the Post, Esposito's lawyer has called the case baseless, and said the actress "was misled by her investors, and has done nothing wrong to warrant a lawsuit." Both sides are due in court in Suffolk County March 16.

    Whatever the outcome of the suit, Esposito's legal woes won't end there, as she declared in court papers that she has filed for divorce from Dowler, citing "cruel and inhuman treatment," among the grounds.

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    Obviously written to portray her in a very negative way that isn't accurate. First of all, she didn't badmouth investors, she warned the celiac community that she couldn't guarantee how products were produced as this is a big concern for celiacs and they would want to know. She has done so much for the celiac community and helping those who are sick. This article was written to minimize her character simply to make it more interesting.

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    Obviously written to portray her in a very negative way that isn't accurate. First of all, she didn't badmouth investors, she warned the celiac community that she couldn't guarantee how products were produced as this is a big concern for celiacs and they would want to know. She has done so much for the celiac community and helping those who are sick. This article was written to minimize her character simply to make it more interesting.

    A judge clearly agreed that her comments about the safety of the bakery should stop...why is that?

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    Obviously written to portray her in a very negative way that isn't accurate. First of all, she didn't badmouth investors, she warned the celiac community that she couldn't guarantee how products were produced as this is a big concern for celiacs and they would want to know. She has done so much for the celiac community and helping those who are sick. This article was written to minimize her character simply to make it more interesting.

    To admin:

    The judge probably simply agreed that she should make no comments since the lawsuit was still in the midst of litigation, not because the judge agree with the complaint. Furthermore, she actually can NOT vouch for the products that will be made if she is no longer in charge of what goes into them. It was her right to decide what ingredients should or should not go into the products. People should remember that she is the one who created Jennifer's Way and all the recipes for the products are HER RECIPES, which means, especially given that her name and image is associated with the products, SHE is the one who will be publicly humiliated should the products have any contamination problems. The investors, and Dowler, are the ones who created a hostile environment. I can't imagine what kind of man would enter into a business lawsuit against his new wife but that's not the issue. In the very beginning, he and Jennifer opened the bakery and she was in control. When the investors entered the scene, she announced that she was the CEO, the one in charge. It seems to me that they didn't commit to the time required for the business to take off. The fact that they would seek to push out the very creator of the business that soon after launching seems very suspicious as to the motives.

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    I know you are telling the facts, but I like compassion too. Gluten Dude had a more personalized blog about this situation. He believes her. He knows her personally and I trust his character so I am inclined to believe her too. Divorce is ugly. I hope she can bounce back after this. I am grateful for her.

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    Obviously written to portray her in a very negative way that isn't accurate. First of all, she didn't badmouth investors, she warned the celiac community that she couldn't guarantee how products were produced as this is a big concern for celiacs and they would want to know. She has done so much for the celiac community and helping those who are sick. This article was written to minimize her character simply to make it more interesting.

    The article was written to share the news about the lawsuit, and about the judge's order for her to stop making public statements questioning the gluten-free status of the bakery's products. You may disagree with the title, but the information in the article has all been reported publicly.

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    To admin:

    The judge probably simply agreed that she should make no comments since the lawsuit was still in the midst of litigation, not because the judge agree with the complaint. Furthermore, she actually can NOT vouch for the products that will be made if she is no longer in charge of what goes into them. It was her right to decide what ingredients should or should not go into the products. People should remember that she is the one who created Jennifer's Way and all the recipes for the products are HER RECIPES, which means, especially given that her name and image is associated with the products, SHE is the one who will be publicly humiliated should the products have any contamination problems. The investors, and Dowler, are the ones who created a hostile environment. I can't imagine what kind of man would enter into a business lawsuit against his new wife but that's not the issue. In the very beginning, he and Jennifer opened the bakery and she was in control. When the investors entered the scene, she announced that she was the CEO, the one in charge. It seems to me that they didn't commit to the time required for the business to take off. The fact that they would seek to push out the very creator of the business that soon after launching seems very suspicious as to the motives.

    The information presented in the article is all based on public information and public statements. We have no dog in this fight, and have not taken sides. The judge should and will decide, based on the merits of the case.

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    I know you are telling the facts, but I like compassion too. Gluten Dude had a more personalized blog about this situation. He believes her. He knows her personally and I trust his character so I am inclined to believe her too. Divorce is ugly. I hope she can bounce back after this. I am grateful for her.

    This case should and will be decided based on facts, not on beliefs or personal feelings about the character of those involved. We are simply providing information that is already public and verifiable. Whether that is "compassionate" or not, is up to you.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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