Former friends and business partners are nuking it out with duelling lawsuits.
Cara Lewis has moved out of the $28,000-per-month Manhattan office she had sub-leased from branding executive Marcie Allen.
Lewis’ attorneys disclosed that Cara Lewis Group was no longer operating in the Flatiron District offices that house MAC Presents, the 15-year-old branding firm set up by Allen to connect artists with companies and consumer products.
The former friends had shared the office for two-and-a-half years, and continued to occupy the space together after Lewis filed suit in April, alleging Allen owed her more than $600,000 in unpaid loans and commissions.
Allen filed her own lawsuit against Lewis in May, saying Lewis breached her lease and created a untenable work environment, refusing to leave as Allen was trying to evict her.
After two months sharing the space with their rival lawsuits pending, Lewis vacated the building last week and is now working from offices about four blocks north of the MAC Presents offices.
It’s also not clear what day Lewis moved out — she was still using the office when Allen’s attorney Christine Lepera filed a motion to dismiss Lewis’ lawsuit on June 24;
“Lewis remains a nuisance, and continues to create problems for MAC vis a vis its own employees who have been unable to work in the toxic work environment created by Lewis,” Lepera wrote in a footnote.
On May 9, Allen sued Lewis, alleging “abusive conduct” towards staff working out of the companies’ shared office space and failure to pay expenses incurred by MAC to help Lewis establish her independent talent agency.
Allen said Lewis refused to vacate the premises after being asked to leave and sued for declaratory relief and a litany of charges including ejectment, breach of lease, private nuisance and unfair competition.
Allen’s suit follows a summons filed by Lewis against Allen on April 25, in which Lewis accused the MAC Presents founder of failing to repay a $325,000 loan and $322,000 in commissions for branding deals tied to the artist Khalid.
Lewis also sought a declaratory judgement that Allen not be allowed to remove her from their shared office space on less than twelve months’ written notice.
Now that Lewis has left the 5,400-sq.-ft. space, the fight has shifted over which lawsuit should take precedent — while Lewis was first to file a summons, Allen was the first to file a complaint.
Lepera says a one-page rental agreement Lewis used to show she didn’t violate the lease agreement was merely a contingency set up in the event that MAC Presents was sold and a new owner took over the lease. Lepera said MAC did receive on offer from a “prestigious management company.”
“Given Lewis’s notorious reputation in the industry, Lewis was concerned that she would be displaced from the office if MAC were to be bought out. Thus, a one page, short-form ‘Rental Agreement’ specifically designed to protect Lewis and CLG in that event was drafted,” Lepera wrote. “The parties signed the agreement with the agreement that it was to be effective only if MAC were to be sold. While the deal almost closed, MAC was never sold.”