Thursday, October 20, 2022

Naomie Olindo sued for fraud over L’Abeye fashion brand

Naomie Olindo’s former business partner is suing the “Southern Charm” star for fraud and breach of contract after she was allegedly ousted from their fashion company, L’Abeye.

In the complaint exclusively obtained by Page Six, Virginia “Ginny” Cox claims Olindo, 30, used deceptive tactics in order to maintain control of the business, misappropriate funds and even keep her from landing a new job after they parted ways.

The former retail store manager and buyer — who filed the lawsuit in Charleston, S.C., on Sept. 19 — says that the reality star approached her to come on board this joint venture as a co-owner with 50 percent stake in early 2018 because of her background in fashion.

At the onset of the apparel brand, Cox and Olindo traveled throughout Los Angeles to meet with vendors, worked together create a logo, a website and help promote the company.

A photo of Naomie Olindo and Virginia Cox at the airport.
Cox claims she puts “hundreds” of hours into the business including traveling to meet with vendors.

Prior to the launch of the business in June 2018, Olindo secured a $50,000 loan from her father to provide startup capital, but Cox claims the Bravolebrity used this as reason to withhold profits from her moving forward.

According to Cox, Olindo also hired attorney Brian Collie at the firm Buxton & Collie and allegedly had him set up L’Abeye as a “sole member limited liability company,” in which “she was the sole member and owner.”

“Plaintiff had no knowledge of this false representation made to Collie,” the lawsuit states, adding that the failure to include Cox as member in the LLC “effectively and intentionally” deprived her of “her legitimate interests in the business.”

A photo of Naomie Olindo and Virginia Cox by a closet rack.
Cox claims Olindo used the father’s investment as an excuse to not pay her partner her fair share of the profits.

Cox claims she had spent hundred of hours helping to build the brand and that both of the women had agreed that they were co-owners. The Fashion Merchandising degree-holder also states, per the suit, that Olindo mentioned they were business partners in several podcasts and media interviews.

In the complaint, Cox also calls out how her work ethic was allegedly much stronger than Olindo’s.

“From the initial launch of the business in early 2018 until May 19, 2022, Plaintiff
worked nearly every day to ensure the success of L’Abeye,” her attorneys argue.

By comparison, the lawsuit adds that Olindo allegedly “took frequent vacations and failed to assist with the operations of L’Abeye for weeks at a time.”

A photo of Naomie Olindo and Virginia Cox.
Olindo and Cox worked together on L’Abeye from early 2018 until at least May 2022.

Despite the fashion brand becoming “very successful and profitable” by generating “significant gross revenue and substantial profit,” Cox claims she was not paid the dues she was owed and the appropriate salary they allegedly agreed upon.

“Because Olindo was controlling the bank account, Plaintiff was unaware of the
amount of funds that Olindo was misappropriating,” the lawsuit claims.

Cox also alleges, per her attorneys, that at times the TV star would “mention” to her that the “account funds were low,” which appeared to be disproportionate to the revenue and profit that was being made.

Following contentious conversations about the company’s accounting, Olindo allegedly “excluded” Cox “from any information about the finances.”

According to the lawsuit, Olindo allegedly “terminated” Cox illegally on May 19, 2022 and restricted her access from the company’s technology and assets.

The disgruntled fashion buyer also claims her former business partner “urged” new prospective employers “not to hire” her after they stopped working together.

Cox claims in the complaint that she has “suffered and/or will continue to suffer mental pain and suffering, mental anguish, intimidation, embarrassment, and lost income” due to Olindo’s “slanderous and defamatory statements” that she allegedly stole from her.

She also adds that the Bravo star allegedly “used her status, educational background, and [their] friendship” to make her “fully dependent” during their partnership.

Cox is seeking a trial by jury and has sued Olindo for 14 causes of action, including breach of contract, dissolution of partnership, fraud, and defamation.

She claims she is entitled to damages that total her 50 percent stake in L’Abeye, as well as “consequential damages” caused by her ex-partner’s “breach of the agreement.”

An attorney for Olindo told Page Six on Thursday, “Our client does not comment publicly on pending litigation. However, obviously these allegations made by a disgruntled former employee are false and misleading. We will soon be filing a formal response to these allegations that will help to set the record straight.”

Meanwhile Cox said in a statement to Page Six on Thursday via her attorney, “Ms. Cox and Ms. Olindo built and managed L’Abeye as partners from the very beginning. For more than four years, Ms. Cox poured her heart and soul into the business.

“While Ms. Cox did everything she could to resolve this amicably as between friends, she had no choice but to file this lawsuit when Ms. Olindo refused to recognize her ownership interest in L’Abeye.”

The statement concludes, “Ms. Cox is only asking for what the pair agreed to from the start. She remains hopeful that Ms. Olindo will do the right thing and recognize her as an owner of the business, like Ms. Olindo has consistently done in the past.”

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