Hard Rock, CPJ in court row over debt
Lawyers representing Hard Rock Café have applied to the Supreme Court to have a default judgment in favour of claimants Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited (CPJ) struck out after the food and beverage manufacturer and distributor won a US$100,000 lawsuit against the defendant.
The two Montego Bay-based companies will return to court today with the hope of settling the ongoing matter and setting aside the judgment, Myers, Fletcher and Gordon partner Gavin Goffe told The Gleaner on Tuesday.
“Our client is interested in an out-of-court settlement. They were wiped out because of the pandemic and are looking to settle all their outstanding liabilities,” he added.
CPJ is not averse to an out-of-court agreement, and the company’s co-executive chairman, Tom Tyler, said efforts to get Hard Rock to pay small amounts on a weekly or monthly basis had proven unsuccessful.
“We have offered to settle with them out of court and we’re waiting. We were called and they offered us a settlement. And we made a counteroffer and we’re waiting to see if they will settle,” he stated.
This is the first time in the 27 years that the company has been operating that it has been forced to sue one of its customers, Tyler stated, adding that CPJ has been fortunate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to have collected receivables.
The suit was filed 18 months ago and the judgment written May 2021. However, Goffe said his client was not served with the documents.
Hard Rock’s parent company is Rockin Restaurant Group.
When The Gleaner reached out to Anders Vestergaard, the 1st defendant in the lawsuit and president of Rockin Restaurant Group, he said he was no longer the owner of the franchise and couldn’t say much.
“COVID shut down the business. What else are you supposed to do? It is what it is,” he stated.
According him, Rockin Restaurant Group always wanted to honour its commitments, “but if there is nothing we can do, there is nothing we can do”.
CPJ says it has been doing business with Hard Rock Jamaica since its inception in 2016, supporting the bar and restaurant on its launch with products.
“We helped them get good positioning and they were a good account,” Tyler explained, noting that Hard Rock’s problems started in Freeport in The Bahamas when the country was hit by the devastating Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
The CPJ co-executive chairman said Hard Rock fell behind on its payments and his organisation extended credit because of the Bahamas crisis.
The distributorship is owed a little over US$100,000, plus three per cent interest.
Hard Rock closed its doors in Montego Freeport, Jamaica, in March 2020 at the start of the lockdown of the country’s borders.
Caribbean Producers Jamaica Limited is being represented by Nigel Jones and Company Attorneys-at-law.