In response to being sued by defunct tour operator JG
Worldwide in October,
Virtuoso has filed a motion to dismiss
the $65 million lawsuit, alleging that the plaintiffs "have no standing to sue."
JG Worldwide, which abruptly ceased operations and filed for
bankruptcy this past summer,
blamed Virtuoso for its collapse, alleging that the group's decision last
February to suspend JG's Heritage Tours and Revealed America from the Virtuoso
network destroyed its business. Virtuoso said the tour operators were late with
commission payments and non-responsive.
Virtuoso has called JG’s claims "completely groundless and
Filed with the New York State Supreme Court on Friday,
Virtuoso's response is accompanied by more than a dozen exhibits, which include
documents outlining Virtuoso's preferred-supplier policies, as well as email
correspondence detailing several complaints made by Virtuoso member agencies
against Heritage Tours and Revealed America.
According to Virtuoso, member complaints involving
outstanding payments from Heritage and Revealed first began in October 2018.
"[JG’s] financial straits are entirely their own doing, but
in casting blame on others for their woes, they have sued Virtuoso for
defamation per se, trade disparagement, and tortious interference with contract
and prospective economic advantage," Virtuoso attorneys Mark Bailen and Peter Shapiro
wrote in their filing. "Despite the hyperbolic language and 'pen-flick'
allegations in the Complaint, the claims arise solely from Virtuoso's
straightforward, measured, and indisputable statements concerning Heritage and
Revealed's late commission payments, service issues, and non-responsiveness -- statements
that Virtuoso is expressly authorized to make."
Virtuoso has also taken issue with the fact that JG Worldwide filed its lawsuit in New York, in violation of an agreement between the two companies that requires any disputes to be handled in Tarrant County, Texas.
In an emailed statement, Virtuoso said, "JG Worldwide's lawsuit in New York is just another attempt by these companies to continue to avoid their legitimate, legal contractual obligations. Virtuoso has also filed its own lawsuit against the appropriate affiliated companies, in Tarrant County, Texas, and intends to aggressively prosecute this lawsuit to hold these JG Worldwide-affiliated companies responsible for their contractual obligations and their wrongful actions."
That counterclaim, which was filed on Dec. 20, alleges that Virtuoso "performed its obligations under the supplier agreements," while JG Worldwide's actions "constitute a breach of their contracts with Virtuoso." Virtuoso is seeking monetary relief in the amount of less than $75,000.
JG Worldwide attorney James DeCristofaro did not immediately
respond to a request for comment.
In November, DeCristofaro told Travel Weekly that any
potential verdict or settlement of JG's case against Virtuoso is the group's
only remaining asset.
He claimed that JG principals Jena Gardner and James Saleh have decided to
focus their resources on the Virtuoso lawsuit rather than on bankruptcy as a
way to reduce costs and to keep the matter private.
JG's Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing was dismissed after JG
failed to file any supporting documents.
The company's initial bankruptcy filing had indicated that
JG had up to $10 million in debts as of July.