NEW YORK — In another case of David vs. Goliath, House of Dreams Inc., the licensee for Nicole Miller Men, has filed suit against Lord & Taylor and its parent, May Department Stores Co., for breach of contract.

According to the suit, filed Oct. 18 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Lord & Taylor had entered into an exclusive agreement with Nicole Miller Men for the manufacturer to provide $100 million in apparel over seven years. The deal, the suit details, said the retailer agreed to purchase at least $10 million a year until it fulfilled its obligation.

However, the suit charges, Lord & Taylor "refused to accept and pay for shipments of special-order goods already ordered (and in some cases accepted) and to complete orders for future seasons, and it has improperly charged back amounts to Nicole Miller Men."

Last summer, the document says, Lord & Taylor decided it no longer wanted to purchase Nicole Miller Men’s exclusive designs, but misled the manufacturer into believing "that Lord & Taylor was both honoring its orders for fall 2002 and proceeding with the special dress shirt-and-tie fall 2002, spring 2003 and fall 2003 collections, but Lord & Taylor and May Department Stores Co. knew that they would back out of these obligations once it was too late for Nicole Miller Men to find alternative customers."

Reached for a statement last week, aMay spokesman said: "May does not comment on litigation."

The suit also states that the breach of contract has caused the manufacturer "substantial damages and, in fact, will cause Nicole Miller Men to go out of business unless an agreement is enforced on an emergency basis."

Randy Mastro of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, attorney for Nicole Miller Men, said an application was filed last week for "emergency relief to compel Lord & Taylor to complete the transaction for $1.9 million in special-order goods."

No ruling had been issued by press time, but Mastro said one was expected shortly.

Stan Lerman, chief executive of Nicole Miller Men, which has the trademark for all men’s, young men’s and boys’ apparel, said his company is in severe financial straits as a result of the situation with Lord & Taylor. "It’s a real mess. I’m a small company fighting a $16 billion corporation. This is going to put us out of business."Lord & Taylor and May Co. have until the end of this week to answer the summons.

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