Branding firm sues Weber, seeking $1m in damages

NEW YORK: Verse Group, a New York-based branding firm, is seeking $1 million in damages from Weber Shandwick in a case filed with New York State's Supreme Court.

NEW YORK: Verse Group, a New York-based branding firm, is seeking $1 million in damages from Weber Shandwick in a case filed with New York State's Supreme Court.

Verse's case against Weber has 19 allegations ranging from non-payment for work done by Verse for Weber clients such as Samsung, the Federal Reserve, and Ragu, according to legal filings.

The suit also claims that the Interpublic Group firm engaged in fraud by using Verse's work to pitch for new business for companies such as Duke Energy without proper credit. The suit also alleges that Weber conspired with Michael Thibodeau, cofounder of Verse, to divert payments and business opportunities away from Verse to Weber. Weber hired Thibodeau last year after he exited Verse.

In addition to the $1 million in damages, Verse is seeking $100,000 for attorney fees.

“We're very proud of the work we've done for Weber Shandwick and the work we've done that has helped them win new business,” said Randall Ringer, CEO of Verse. “At the end of the day, they are a large agency and we are a boutique agency, and we are looking to be paid for what we've done.”

Last week, Weber filed a motion to dismiss five of the causes of action in their entirety, and two requests in part. Weber targeted these allegations because it felt Verse failed to state a comprehensive claim in some instances, statutes of limitation had passed for others, or that it could produce evidence to refute some of the allegations.

It also asked that the requests for punitive damages and attorney fees be stricken.

“This is a run-of-the-mill dispute with a former vendor,” said Jennifer Norton, SVP of corporate communications at Weber. “We're defending ourselves vigorously and expect to prevail in our motion to dismiss.”

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