Source: Travel Weekly 8/16/2009

Court Tosses Joystar Lawsuit v Former Agent

The federal courts dismissed a lawsuit brought in March by bankrupt host agency Joystar against Drew Axelrod, one of its former independent contractors and the lead agent in the successful effort to force Joystar into bankruptcy.

The case had been filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, where the bankruptcy case also is pending.

Joystar had accused Axelrod of "diverting" and retaining $86,000 in commissions generated by a group cruise aboard a Costa ship. The payments should have been paid to the host, Joystar contended.

The cruise was a weeklong dance convention held in early 2008. Axelrod said the $86,000 was not commissions but the markup for convention-related services, money he collected from his clients not the cruise line.

Axelrod, like many Joystar agents, worked with the host based on paying flat fees for services and receiving 100% of commissions earned on sales.

Joystar had also accused Axelrod of harassing Joystar employees, defaming the company and its management to the press, offering Joystar employees $2,500 for the company's customer list and threatening the company's principals. The host agency also accused him of interfering with an opportunity to sell Joystar to an investor.

The plaintiff asked for injunctive relief to put an end to the alleged practices. Joystar also had filed a motion for a protective order, but that motion was denied in an earlier ruling this summer.

According to Axelrod, Joystar had not presented to the court any evidence to back up allegations.

"I have not ruled out a personal libel suit against Joystar's owners," Axelrod said. Joystar's owners are CEO William Alverson and his wife, Kathy West. She is executive vice president.

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