An Irvine-based travel company is being sued by a large Las Vegas resort for canceling a convention following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The Mandalay Resort Group charged Irvine-based Conference and Travel Management Inc. acted in “bad faith” when it called off a Sept. 18 gathering it had organized.
“(The company) seized upon the tragedy as an excuse to breach its contract, ” the lawsuit, which was filed last week in Las Vegas, said.
The suit is not the first of its kind.
The MGM Mirage has filed a similar action against Xelus, a company that canceled an October conference at MGM Grand.
Frank Baptista, executive vice president of Conference and Travel Management, said he was shocked.
The relatively small Tenet Financial Leadership conference, which the company had arranged at the 3,700-room Mandalay Bay Hotel, totaled only about 650 people.
“Quite frankly, we are not aware of any company nationwide that has taken this position,” Baptista said.
There were numerous convention and business cancellations across the country in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, mostly because people were afraid to travel. Elaine Cali, a spokeswoman for the Anaheim/Orange County Visitors and Convention Bureau, said she was surprised by the Las Vegas resort`s reaction.
“In fact, people are being lenient about contracts,” Cali said.
“People were taking more of a humanistic view.”
There were at least 12 conventions and meetings cancelled in Anaheim and more than 250 in Las Vegas cancelled in the aftermath of the terrorists attacks. Recently, the tourism business in Anaheim has rebounded, Cali added.
However, Mandalay Resort Group doesn`t accept the Irvine company`s view that the conference was canceled because of the attacks, said Mandalay Bay Senior Vice President John Marz.
“There are numerous companies that honored their commitments to conventions around the country and in Las Vegas,” Marz said. “We tried to work with companies facing problems, finding them other dates. This particular company we couldn`t come to an agreement with, but everyone else is fine.”
Mandalay Bay is seeking more than $10,000 in damages, lawyers` fees and costs. Conference and Travel Management could have canceled the contract without a reason by paying at least $391,041, or 60 percent of the revenue the resort would have gotten for its rooms and food services, the lawsuit said. Despite travel fallout from terrorist attacks, the Las Vegas resort says the Irvine conference firm breached the contract.