Jeffrey and Kymberly Lubell, the former owners of the jeans resource Bella Dahl, filed a countersuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against factor CIT Commercial Services, and brothers Kerry and Steve Jolna, who now own Bella Dahl.
The 10-count suit charges the Jolnas and CIT with fraud and conspiracy, among other things. In addition to unspecified monetary damages, the suit seeks to return ownership of Bella Dahl and its trademarks to the Lubells, said attorney Elizabeth Kessel, of Schuler & Kessel, who is representing them.
The suit contends that the Jolnas partnered with the Lubells in an effort to bankrupt the company and obtain ownership of its intellectual property.
“Kerry Jolna and Steve Jolna engineered a default of Bella Dahl Inc. under the factoring agreement…such that Kerry Jolna and Steve Jolna would be able to acquire cross-complainants [the Lubells] IP [intellectual property] and other valuable property,” the suit charges.
The suit also charges the factor, now known as Tyco Capital Commercial Services, and its executive, Ted Lewin, with allegations including breach of express oral contract, fraud, conspiracy, conversion and interference with prospective economic advantage.
Thursday’s filing follows a Dec. 3 suit filed by CIT against the Lubells for collection of $191,134.12 — a sum left over from when they owned Bella Dahl.
Lewin’s office referred all questions to a CIT spokeswoman who said CIT does not comment on pending litigation.
The suit also charges the Jolnas and their Sun Valley, Calif.-based company, Jolna Design Group Inc., with similar charges, as well as unfair competition.
Attorney Kessel said, “The Lubells have always contended that their creative product was stolen from them. [Kerry] Jolna saw a lucrative product and in collusion, stole it for his own benefit.”
Neither Jolna could be reached for comment on Friday, but a Bella Dahl spokeswoman said they had not seen the documents containing the allegations.
Revenue at Bella Dahl, which also produces Jefri jeans, is expected to reach $10 million this year, said Kerry Jolna, chief executive officer of Jolna Design Group, in a December interview. Revenues for the company were $1.3 million when Jolna acquired the near-bankrupt Bella Dahl Inc. in November 2000, after CIT foreclosed on the company.
The countersuit claims the Lubells signed a letter on Nov. 22, 2000, under the impression from Jolna that it would help restructure the company’s finances. The lawsuit also claims that shortly after the Lubells signed that letter, CIT foreclosed on the company and illegally sold the rights to Jolna for 10 percent of the net proceeds of $1.6 million worth of outstanding orders. Jolna Design Group was formed the day before the letter was signed, on Nov. 21, 2000.
Thursday’s filing marks the fourth lawsuit surrounding Bella Dahl. As reported, Jolna Design Group filed a suit on June 14 against the Lubells and Azteca Production International Inc. — the backer of their new line Hippie Jeans. The Lubells responded to that with a countersuit.