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 without merit." 

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. 


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