A Newton craft brewery that lets customers create their own beers and a Boston marketing firm are suing each other over a six-month marketing contract they signed in January.
Hopsters LLC owner Lee Cooper says Marlo Marketing Communications owner Marlo Fogelman owes him roughly $25,000 for breaking the contract after just three months - and for not completing work on labels for two of his beer lines.
Fogelman charges Cooper was a jerk to her employees - and not for the first time - says her employees did far more work than they originally planned to before she canceled the contract and that Hopsters is illegally using the beer labels that her firm designed but only got half-paid for.
Cooper originally sued in Suffolk Superior Court; Fogelman had the case moved to federal court in Boston this week, in part because of the federal copyright issues involved.
In his complaint, Cooper said he agreed to hire Marlo Marketing in January at $60,000 for six months of work to create buzz around a planned South Boston Waterfront outlet and to design labels for two beers and that, at first, Marlo did its work just fine, including getting an article in Boston Metro.
But in April, Cooper alleges, Fogelman abruptly canceled the contract and said she would not refund any money, in a note that read, in part "Your behavior ... is once again, jeopardizing my staff and I simply will not tolerate it."
Cooper says he's owed a refund because Fogelman had agreed to a lump-sum-per-month payment and to not charge by the hour, and that Fogelman never turned over the half-paid-for beer labels. Cooper is also seeking damages for the fraud and lost business he claims are the result of the early contract termination.
Fogelman fires back that rather than trying to simply drum up support for the Waterfront outlet, Cooper wanted her to make "Hopsters authentic and me a bad ass" and to help rehabilitate his brand, which she alleges came under heavy fire during a December Twitter war with the owner of the Craft Beer Cellar chain, which had directed its franchisees to not stock Hopster beers.
Fogelman says she reluctantly agreed to take Hopsters back on as a client - because an earlier experience with Cooper had left a bad taste in her mouth. In fact, her complaint alleges, she only agreed to a contract after Cooper promised that he "would not, as he had in the past, mistreat or abuse Marlo Marketing's staff." The complaint continues:
Mr. Cooper agreed, stating, "I'll check my behavior, however, I want to be active in the strategic direction - with the caveat that you tell me to fuck off anytime and I'll also pay you in advance so I have no redress.
Things came to a head, Fogelman's complaint alleges, on April 13, when Cooper complained about the label for his Newtonian beer and then demanded, in "an abusive, demeaning and insulting tirade," that the her employees either redesign the label at no charge, or give him the label files so he could have somebody else work on it.
Fogelman, the complaint says, decided that was quite enough and severed her relationship with Cooper - whom she alleges then went on to use the label anyway, even though he never paid the full agreed upon price.
And, Fogelman's complaint continues, Hopsters began using the labels that Marlo designed for it, even though Marlo still owns the copyright on them, because they were never paid in full for them.
Fogelman concludes by asking a judge to dismiss Cooper's complaint and to award her damages for the lost money and reputation she alleges Cooper has cost her - as well as any profits he's made from his Newtonian and Comet Citra beers adorned with the new labels, plus damages for those.
Complaints and exhibits related to the suits (7.1M PDF).