January 3, 2013 in City

Spokane consulting company sues White Sox

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Spokane-based Vizant Technologies, formerly P.E. Systems, advises businesses on how to lower the cost of accepting electronic payments.

A Spokane-based company is suing several professional sports teams for breach of contract.

Vizant Technologies LLC, formerly known as P.E. Systems, recently filed lawsuits in Spokane County Superior Court against teams including the Detroit Lions, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox.

The company, which serves clients around the U.S. and Canada, advises businesses on how to lower the cost of accepting electronic payments.

Under the company’s standard agreement, the client must pay a consulting fee of 50 percent of all savings if it decides to implement Vizant’s program. If the client chooses not to implement the program but still realizes some program savings, the client is obligated to pay the same consulting fee on the savings for 24 months.

Nicholas D. Kovarik, of Spokane-based Piskel Yahne Kovarik PLLC, which is representing Vizant, said the companies all stopped paying in the same time frame and may be working together.

“We think there’s some conversation going on behind the scenes,” he said of the sports teams.

“The theme that’s running through these is the bigger companies don’t believe they need to pay, or if they don’t pay, they’re going to get a discount or a break,” Kovarik said. “It’s just a classic not following through with your promise.”

In December, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Vizant in a lawsuit filed against Missouri-based CPI Corp. At the heart of the issue was contractual language, Kovarik said.

“The Supreme Court case was a huge victory for P.E. Systems as it confirmed that its standard form agreement is valid under Washington law,” he said in an email. “Now there is a published decision that holds each contract that uses the same language is valid and enforceable.”

Most of the litigation is in the early stages, Kovarik said. The damages Vizant will seek depend on the case, but generally are anywhere from $10,000 to more than $1 million.

Vizant CEO Joseph Bizzarro, said in an emailed statement: “Our company has thousands of satisfied clients. From time to time we unfortunately encounter situations where a client neglects or refuses to pay compensation pursuant to the terms of our contractual agreement. On those infrequent occasions we regrettably must seek recourse through the courts.”  

Vizant also has lawsuits against eight other companies, including the YMCA of Silicon Valley, Calif., and AARP. None of the named companies could be reached for comment Wednesday evening. Vizant has also reached confidential out-of-court settlements with several other companies, including professional sports teams.

“We’ve attempted to try to work through this,” Kovarik said of the pending litigation. “My client doesn’t like to litigate.”


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