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Why are these people suing me? I don't even know them!

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Okay gang. Here is one that I have not seen covered. It is causing me a few sleepless nights.

I own a travel agency in New Orleans. I specialize in Costa Rica. I spend a lot of time on various chat sites discussing the merits of Costa Rica, and making recommendations for travelers.

I also have a website, that has "clones" of my supplier's web sites. There are about 50 suppliers represented. These include hotels, car rental companies, domestic airlines, tour companies, etc. There is a one specific wilderness lodge that is extremely remote.

Last year, a light plane chartered by this lodge went down. The pilot and three people died and one man was seriously injured. They were from California, Virginia, and Germany.

Like everyone else in the business, I heard of the crash. I was very sorry to hear of the tragedy. However, I was not concerned about it. I had never had any contact with the persons who died, nor did I have anything to do with booking their trip. I also do not have any ownership interest in the lodge. I am a customer, who advertises and resells their services for a commission.

A couple of days ago, I was served papers naming me as a principal in a wrongful death suit! The other defendants are the lodge itself, and the corporation that owns it. They are Costa Rican entities. I am a resident of Louisiana, and my company is incorporated here. The attorneys are from California, and have retained local counsel. I have done research on the law firms. They both seem to be heavy hitters. The California firm specializes in Aviation accidents. The New Orleans firm was part of the big tobacco lawsuit.

As first, I thought that the attorney involved thought that I was an owner of the lodge. I called him to explain the situation. I ran into a stone wall. I have spent the last couple of days calling the plaintiffs, their attorneys and my own attorney here in New Orleans.

The attorney in California claims that they are not forum shopping. He also claims that this is not a mistake, and that they did not pick me out of thin air. They also know that I am a small operator, who is incorporated. The company has no real assets. They have sent me a letter telling me that they will not seek a default judgement if I do not respond within the 15 days allowed. They claim that they are after the Costa Rican company. However, they will offer no guarantee that they won't come after me later.

My own attorney does not want to get involved. He knows that I do not have the resources to follow through. He told me to accept the promise that there will be no default judgment at this time, and wait to see what happens. However, this leaves the suit open.

What should I do? I do not have the funds to mount a defense against these guys. One of the partners flew to New Orleans to retain the other firm. They are serious about this.

I do not want to liquidate my corporation. My little company has become fairly well known. We are not getting rich, but it supports my family. The loss of good will would be devastating.

Also, what are these guys up to? What are we missing? Where am I liable? Why did they pick me?

I have to respond (or not) in the next couple weeks. Any and all answers would be welcome. Please send a copy by Email: [email protected]




Why are these people suing me?

Get in Line! That was the shortened version.

It is a complex problem, and I wanted to post all the details. So what do you think?


Senior Member
Long, but definitely interesting story.... my random thoughts:

1) Did you provide ANY services to the individuals who were killed in the aviation accident????
2) Did they use your services for any portion of their trip (excluding the slim possiblity of someone having visited your website)???
3) What claim is made in the complaint that would bring your firm into the fray?

Finally, my suggestions:
1) Don't trust them on the 'no default' letter. Have your attorney draw up a General Denial response and file it with the court.
2) Also, have your attorney write the opposing a letter, explaining that you have NO INVOLVEMENT in their claims and that if they decide to pursue it, they would make themselves liable for a countersuit for "Judicial Abuse", "Malicious Prosecution", etc. Ask them to 'non-suit' the corporation immediately.
3) Since the travel agency is a corporation, unless you have personal guarantees involved, you are not personally liable for the corporations actions. I suggest you consider creating a 'new' corporation and transferring some of your permissable assets to it just in case. That would further limit the assets available in the event of a judgment. Then, if needed, you can d/b/a your old name, under your new corporate name so that you can continue using your old letterhead, signage, etc. (don't do this before judgment).

Hope that this helps...

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