After weeks of keeping relatively low profiles, the Nakash brothers of Jordache and the Marciano brothers of Guess have added a new wrinkle to their blue jeans battle. True to form, though, the two sides don't agree on what the effect will be.
Their dispute over control of Guess, a Los Angeles-based apparel company of which each side owns 50%, has escalated into a nasty altercation being fought in courts in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. From a simple matter about allegedly stolen designs, the case has evolved into a controversy that encompasses allegations of customs violations and tax evasion.
The latest development comes from Hong Kong.
Jordache issued a news release Thursday claiming that a Hong Kong judge had ordered the Marcianos--Georges, Maurice, Armand and Paul--and Guess to pay Jordache International and its Hong Kong manufacturers $300,000 in attorneys' fees and costs for withholding relevant evidence from a Hong Kong court. (Jordache International is the Hong Kong-based unit of Jordache Enterprises, which has offices in New York.)
According to Dan Woods, a Los Angeles attorney representing Joe, Ralph and Avi Nakash, the court found that the Marcianos had failed to divulge some material facts in connection with a lawsuit that they filed in January. At that time, the Marcianos' attorneys won an order allowing them to seize thousands of documents from Jordache and its manufacturers in Hong Kong.
Woods said the Hong Kong court also ordered the Marcianos to return all of those documents.
"We're hoping this deters the Marcianos from filing more suits or taking other unjustified steps to prolong this litigation," Woods said.
Marshall Grossman, a Los Angeles-based attorney for the Marcianos, begged to differ.
'False and Misleading'
"The press release issued by Jordache is materially false and misleading," he said by telephone from New York. "No order for the payment of specific attorneys' fees or costs has been issued by any court in Hong Kong or elsewhere against the Marcianos or Guess."
What the court did, Grossman contended, was to lift the order under which the Marcianos seized Jordache documents. However, he said, the Marcianos were not ordered to return the records. Nor did the court specify the amounts that the Marcianos will be required to pay.
(Grossman did not dispute the fact that, under Hong Kong law, the side that prevails in a motion--in this case Jordache--is entitled to be reimbursed for certain attorneys' fees.)
Besides, he added, what happens in Hong Kong will not affect proceedings in Los Angeles County Superior Court, where similar lawsuits are under way.
In May, the court ordered Jordache International to pay the Marcianos $23,000 for "willfully" disobeying a court order that it turn over certain records to the Marcianos.
Jordache was also ordered to transport thousands of documents from Hong Kong and New York to Los Angeles.