Rick Owens is once again pushing for a quick end to allegations by an early investor that the brand is scheming to oust her.
In a renewed motion to dismiss, the brand urged a local Manhattan court to toss out claims by Barbara Mariani, who says she’s being illegally squeezed out of her 10 percent stake in a Rick Owens affiliate. Mariani said she worked to grow and establish the brand in Paris and London over the last decade. Rick Owens in February pulled an original dismissal bid in order to address recent changes to Mariani’s claims.
Arguing Mariani’s accusations of tortious business interference and breach of fiduciary duty are not only “fatally defective,” but were filed in New York when the parties have contractually agreed to handle disputes in England, the company said there is no reason for the suit to continue.
The company also addressed Mariani’s attempt to block the jurisdictional argument by detailing and questioning in an amended complaint the legitimacy of a $700,000 loan made by Rick Owens to another leg of the brand, Creature Development Ltd., which holds Mariani’s investment shares and operates a store in London.
“Under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the present suit is not about the loan agreement,” Rick Owens said in its motion. “Indeed, plaintiff is not even a party to the loan agreement. Nor is there any term or provision of the loan agreement in dispute. Simply put, the loan agreement, entered into in 2008, has no relevancy to the action and the October 2015 capital call.”
Mariani claims that the “self-dealing” loan was carried out in order to demand repayment through her shares, which she gained through a 2005 investment in Rick Owens of 18,000 euros. She also claims to have been unaware of the loan and has even questioned its existence.
The brand pushed back on Friday, saying there is plenty of documentary evidence, including bank statements, showing the loan was executed. It added that the loan was a legitimate element of a restructuring of the Rick Owens business and was a “proper exercise of corporate authority.”
Should the court not agree with those points however, Rick Owens said Mariani’s complaint should not have been filed in New York at all and should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, considering all of the relevant parties are based in Europe, including Mariani, who lives in Paris.
“It would work no hardship on the plaintiff to bring her claims in England instead of New York,” the company said. “The plaintiff has already implicitly if not expressly acknowledged…that England is a suitable location for the dispute. In addition, plaintiff has confirmed that she has or had legal counsel in England. Against this background it is hard to conceive that New York could be a more convenient forum than England.”
Counsel for Mariani could not be immediately reached for comment.