Woman Sues Promo Firms Alleging Antitrust Injury

A woman in Oregon has filed suit against several promotional product companies, alleging their actions caused her antitrust injury. Plaintiff Kimberly Kjessler is suing Zaappaaz Inc. and several of its entities, Custom Wristbands Inc. and several of its entities, Netbrands Media Corp. and Casad Company, for causing her harm through their alleged or suspected role in price fixing. Kjessler is also suing Zaappaaz executive Azim Makanojiya and Custom Wristbands executive Christopher Angeles. Kjessler is proposing the suit be a class action case and has requested a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Oregon, Portland division.

According to a court filing, between June 2014 and June 2016, Kjessler purchased promo products from at least one of the defendants. As a basis for her suit, Kjessler believes the actions of the defendants turned a naturally competitive market into one that was unfairly prejudiced against her as a buyer, which forced her to pay more for wristbands and lanyards. Each of the defendants have either been a party to a federal investigation related to price fixing in the promo products industry, or have legal history with another named defendant.

While Zaappaaz and some its companies, including WB Promotions Inc. (asi/98409/353290) and Custom Wristbands and some of its firms, including (asi/79981), recently agreed in a federal case to plead guilty to price fixing, Netbrands Media Corp. and Casad have not been charged with price fixing crimes.

In July, the FBI spent about seven hours investigating at the offices of Casad-owned Totally Promotional. The FBI confirmed to Counselor that agents were onsite at the company to investigate price fixing, although to date no case has been brought against the Ohio-based firm. After news of the investigation broke, Totally Promotional said in a statement that it “has not participated in any wrongdoing as it relates to any activity, including price fixing with any of our competitors.”

Makanojiya and Angeles have admitted to federal authorities to taking part in price fixing activities. Their companies have agreed to pay fines, levied as a result of their violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Kjessler is seeking undisclosed damages in the case.