WASHINGTON: Three event planners are suing APCO Worldwide in a Washington, DC, court, saying the agency refused to pay its bill after cancelling a client soiree a day before the event was scheduled to take place.
Vendors Erick Sanchez, Carson Sieving, and Stephanie Ruby said APCO gave them 12 days to organize a March 22 DC event for Saudi tech client International Performance Hub, but it cancelled the event on March 21, according to a suit filed on May 24 in Washington District Court. The vendors said they sent the firm an invoice, but the agency, saying it had never contracted for the services, declined to pay.
The trio is asking for $211,091.86 in compensatory damages, which the plaintiffs say "represents approved fees and expenses incurred from travel and lodging during the performance of their contract."
The lawsuit has been filed and is available at the court and online, but APCO said it has not been served with the suit.
"We have not formally been served a lawsuit and had been talking to the parties involved. We hope to appropriately resolve this dispute," the company said in a statement.
International Performance Hub could not be immediately reached for comment.
The attorney for the three defendants, Chap Petersen, said no formal contract existed between his clients and APCO, but that doesn’t matter.
"I’m sure that’s gonna get raised, and we’ll deal with it," Petersen said. "The law in most states, and it’s pretty clear, is when parties send back and forth emails and messages and a meeting of a mind occurs, when that meeting of minds happens, a contract is formed even if someone doesn’t exactly sign on the dotted line."
Between March 9, when APCO media manager Anthony DeAngelo contacted Sanchez, and March 22, the planned day of the event, APCO sent emails about the project and urged the three planners to proceed, according to the suit. One email addressed how APCO had received approval from the client for a project proposal including a budget.
"Hi Carson, Great news! We have written client approval to proceed. Let us know on venue and specs for any design elements, and [the agency] can get you the specs for our tech requirements. Excited to move forward with this!" wrote APCO senior consultant Linda Barnhart in an email, one of several included as exhibits in the suit.
APCO had also asked the trio to plan a similar event in New York City, but Barnhart sent an email on March 19 cancelling that event. On March 20, Liam Leduc Clarke, APCO MD for Saudi Arabia, sent an email asking that the three stop all work on the D.C. event, as well, and sent an email cancelling it the next day.