Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Inc. et al v. Gallagher et al

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF against All Defendants (Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 113A-15224303) filed by All Plaintiffs.

Middle District of Florida, flmd-6:2019-cv-00476

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1 PageID 1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA ORLANDO DIVISION WYNDHAM VACATION OWNERSHIP, CASE NO.: INC., a Delaware corporation; WYNDHAM VACATION RESORTS, INC.; a Delaware corporation, WYNDHAM RESORT DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, an Oregon Corporation; SHELL VACATIONS, LLC, an Arizona limited liability company; SVC-WEST, LLC, a California limited liability company; SVC-AMERICANA, LLC, an Arizona limited liability company; and SVC-HAWAII, LLC, a Hawaii limited liability company, Plaintiffs, v. CHARLES E. GALLAGHER, ESQ., an individual; WILLIAM P. STEWART JR/ a/k/a PAUL STEWART a/k/a BILL STEWART, an individual; GALLAGHER-CLIFTON, LLC a/k/a The Gallagher Firm, a Florida limited liability company; TIMESHARE OWNERS RELIEF, LLC, f/k/a Timeshare Solutions, LLC a Florida limited liability company; and RESORT LEGAL TEAM, INC., a Nevada corporation, Defendants. COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Inc. ("WVO"); Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc. ("WVR"); Wyndham Resort Development Corporation ("WRDC"); Shell Vacations, LLC ("SV"); SVC-West, LLC ("SVC-West"); SVC-Americana, LLC ("SVC-Americana"); and SVC- Hawaii, LLC ("SVC-Hawaii") (collectively, "Wyndham"), by and through the undersigned counsel, and pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, hereby sue Defendants Charles E. WPBDOCS 9871662 3 1 PageID 2 Gallagher, Esq. ("Gallagher"), William P. Stewart Jr. a/k/a Paul Stewart a/k/a Bill Stewart ("Stewart"), Gallagher-Clifton, LLC a/k/a The Gallagher Firm, ("Gallagher-Clifton"), Timeshare Owners Relief, LLC f/k/a Timeshare Solutions, LLC ("Timeshare Owners Relief"), and Resort Legal Team, Inc. ("Resort Legal Team")(collectively, the "Defendants"), and state: A. Introduction 1. Wyndham is a global leader in the development of timeshare properties. 2. Wyndham has valid and binding contracts (the "Timeshare Contracts") with individuals who purchased timeshare interests from Wyndham (the "Wyndham Owners"). These Timeshare Contracts control the benefits and obligations of timeshare ownership. 3. Defendants are a group of individuals and related companies that conspire together to harm Wyndham Owners and Wyndham. Stewart, Timeshare Owner Relief, and Resort Legal Team have recruited lawyers – Gallagher – and formed a fake law firm – Gallagher-Clifton – in order to carry out their scheme that is detailed more fully herein. An organizational chart showing the interrelatedness of the various defendants is annexed hereto as Exhibit 1. 4. Defendants are not parties to the Timeshare Contracts. Yet, despite this, they falsely advertise "timeshare cancellation services" that purports to "cancel their timeshare and any outstanding timeshare mortgage as well." The following is a representative advertisement by Timeshare Owners Relief for illustrative purposes:1 1 http://web.archive.org/web/20180107205623/http://www.timeshareownersrelief.com/ (last accessed Feb. 18, 2019)(highlighting supplied). A full copy of this website is annexed hereto as Exhibit 2. -2- WPBDOCS 9871662 3 1 PageID 3 5. Defendants solicit Wyndham Owners through a multitude of advertisements that misrepresent the nature of Defendants' "timeshare cancellation service." Examples of these advertisements are set forth in greater detail hereinbelow. 6. Defendants misleadingly advertise a "100% money back guarantee" that Defendants can "cancel" the Timeshare Contracts, including Wyndham Owners' Timeshare Contracts. An example of the '100% guarantee' allegedly offered by Timeshare Owners Relief is included below:2 7. However, Defendants' "timeshare cancellation service" provides no legal means 2 http://web.archive.org/web/20180109095346/http://www.timeshareownersrelief.com/our-guarantee/ (last accessed Feb. 21, 2019). A full copy of this website is annexed hereto as Exhibit 3. -3- WPBDOCS 9871662 3 1 PageID 4 of cancellation and is instead designed to cause the Wyndham Owners to stop fulfilling their payment obligations under the Timeshare Contracts, resulting in breach, default, and damaged credit. 8. In order to solicit Wyndham Owners, Defendants' online advertisements and website content create a false narrative that Defendants' "timeshare cancellation service" is equivalent to legal representation or that Defendants are operating a law firm, when in fact they are not. 9. In fact, while Gallagher is indeed a lawyer, admitted the Bar of the State of Georgia, Gallagher-Clifton is not a law firm and Gallagher denies representing any consumers in the role of a lawyer, despite the representations and implications made by Timeshare Owner Relief and/or Resort Legal Team. B. Parties, Jurisdiction, and Venue i. The Plaintiffs 10. WVO is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware with a principal place of business located at 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821. 11. WVR is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware with a principal place of business located at 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821. 12. WRDC is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Oregon with a principal place of business located at 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821. -4- WPBDOCS 9871662 3 1 PageID 5 13. SV is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the state of Arizona with a principal place of business located at 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821. 14. Plaintiff SVC-West, LLC is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the state of California with a principal place of business located at 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821. 15. Plaintiff SVC-Americana, LLC is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the state of Arizona with a principal place of business located at 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821. 16. Plaintiff SVC-Hawaii, LLC is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the state of Hawaii with a principal place of business located at 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821. 17. WVO is the parent company or ultimate parent company of WVR, WRDC, and SV, which conducts timeshare sales and development activities throughout the United States. ii. The Defendants 18. Gallagher is an individual and member of the Bar of the State of Georgia. Gallagher resides in Destin, Florida and can be located at 4742 Amhurst Circle, Destin, Florida 32541. 19. Stewart is an individual and resident of the State of Florida. Stewart is a former employee of WVR. Stewart can be located at 122 Seascape Drive, Unit 1670, Miramar Beach, Florida 32250. Stewart is not an attorney. -5- WPBDOCS 9871662 3 1 PageID 6 20. Gallagher-Clifton is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the State of Florida with a principal address at 4641 Gulfstarr[sic] Drive, Suite 102, Destin, Florida 32541. Stewart is the registered agent of Gallagher-Clifton. 21. Gallagher-Clifton is not a law firm. 22. Timeshare Owners Relief f/k/a Timeshare Solutions, LLC is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the State of Florida. Timeshare Solutions changed its name to Timeshare Owners Relief on or about December 30, 2014; a copy of the relevant Florida Secretary of State records is annexed hereto as Exhibit 4. Stewart is the registered agent of Timeshare Owners Relief and can be located at 122 Seascape Drive, Unit 1670, Miramar Beach, Florida 32250. 23. Resort Legal Team is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Nevada. The registered agent of Resort Legal Team is United States Corporation Agents, Inc. located at 500 North Rainbow Boulevard, Suite 300A, Las Vegas, Nevada 89107. iii. Subject Matter Jurisdiction 24. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the claims sounding in the Lanham Act alleged herein pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the claims sounding in state law alleged herein pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 as the state law claims are so related to the Lanham Act claims that they form part of the same case or controversy. iv. Personal Jurisdiction 25. This Court has personal jurisdiction over the Defendants pursuant §48.193(1)(a) and §48.193(3), Fla. Stat., as Defendants are engaged in substantial and not isolated activity -6- WPBDOCS 9871662 3 1 PageID 7 within Florida, operate a business and have an office in Florida, and have committed a tortious act within this state. 26. More specifically, with regard to Gallagher and Stewart, they are residents of the State of Florida. 27. With respect to Gallagher-Clifton and Timeshare Owners Relief, they are both limited liability companies organized and existing under the laws of the State of Florida and actually operating in the State of Florida. 28. With respect to Resort Legal Team, Resort Legal Team conspires with the other Defendants to execute its scheme and, as part of this conspiracy, Resort Legal Team forwards unsuspecting and unwitting consumers to Gallagher, Stewart, and Gallagher-Clifton in the State of Florida and therefore has systemic contacts with the State of Florida. 29. Moreover, Resort Legal Team operates a website that is accessible to residents of the State of Florida and involves the repeated transmission of electronic files and information into and out of the State of Florida on a regular and systemic – and not limited – basis. 30. Finally, Resort Legal Team's activities with respect to Wyndham are directed at Wyndham, which is located in the State of Florida, and designed to interfere in, and cause the breach of, contracts with payment obligations, where the payments are made to Wyndham in the State of Florida. 31. The Court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over Resort Legal Team would not offend the traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. Therefore, the Court has personal jurisdiction over Resort Legal Team. -7- WPBDOCS 9871662 3 1 PageID 8 v. Venue 32. Venue is proper in the Middle District of Florida pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1391 because, as described herein, a substantial part of the events giving rise to Plaintiffs' claims occurred in Florida, and a portion of Defendants' conduct giving rise to the claims set forth herein (specifically, both their marketing activities and their repeated sending of letters to Wyndham in Orlando, Florida) occurred in this District. Moreover, in non-patent cases,3 28 U.S.C. § 1391(d) states that in multi-district states (such as Florida), a corporate defendant "shall be deemed to reside in any district in that State within which its contacts would be sufficient to subject it to personal jurisdiction…" Because Defendants direct substantial activity into the Middle District of Florida, they would be subject to personal jurisdiction in this district, and venue is proper. vi. Conditions Precedent, Attorney's Fees 33. All conditions precedent to the bringing and maintenance of this action have been performed, were waived, would be futile if attempted, or have otherwise been satisfied or occurred. 34. Wyndham has retained the services of the undersigned lawyers to represent it in this matter and have obligated themselves to pay reasonable attorneys' fees, which fees are recoverable against Defendants pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1117 and Fla. Stat. § 501.2105. C. Wyndham's Timeshare Business 35. Wyndham devotes substantial resources to advertising and other marketing promotions in an effort to maintain and enhance the value of their established and famous brands. 3 That is, cases where 28 U.S.C. § 1400 is inapplicable. -8- WPBDOCS 9871662 3 1 PageID 9 36. As part of its business, WVR, WRDC and SV enter into valid and binding Timeshare Contracts with Wyndham Owners. At the time that Wyndham Owners purchase timeshares from WVR, WRDC, and/or SV, the Wyndham Owners execute Contracts for Purchase and Sale wherein the Wyndham