A White Plains luxury footwear company received shoes worth more than $1.2 million, but failed to pay the Hong Kong manufacturer, according to a newly filed lawsuit.
Universal International Max Ltd., the shoemaker, filed the complaint June 2 in U.S. District Court in White Plains, against Donald J Pliner of Florida LLC.
In November 2018, the complaint states, Pliner “ceased paying for the orders it placed, despite receiving and accepting the merchandise.”
Universal International Max manufactures shoes for men and women that Pliner designs, according to the complaint, and sells at a New York showroom and department stores.
The brand was founded in 1989 by Donald J. Pliner, who credits his creations to the study of anatomy and portraiture.
“Colors and materials come first,” he stated in a 2016 press release after he formed a new brand and left the business named for him, “then the designs, but most important, exceptionally comfortable fashion.”
Pliner sold his brand in 2011 to DJP Holdings and stayed on as the creative director until 2015. In 2018, a hedge fund that owned DJP sold it to Studio H 33 Inc., owned and operated by John Hanna.
Universal International Max has made shoes for DJP for eight years, according to the complaint. DJP would send a purchase order specifying the designs, colors, sizes and number of shoes to make. Typically, the goods would be shipped out in 75 to 110 days and then payments were due in 30 to 45 days.
From November 2018 to March 2020, DJP placed 58 orders worth $1,206,574. The merchandise was delivered, the complaint states, DJP sold or attempted to sell the shoes but has not paid for them.
Universal International Max claims that Hanna created a new entity this year, House of Pliner LLC, that operates out of the same office as DJP, uses the same employees and has the same customers.
When Universal International Max representatives spoke with Hanna in April, the complaint states, he acknowledged the non-payments and proposed an arrangement by which House of Pliner would cure the default over time.
“Neither DJP nor House of Pliner,” the shoemaker alleges, “has paid Max any portion of the debts incurred by DJP.”
Universal International Max accuses DJP of breach of contract and failure to pay for goods delivered and accepted.
Efforts to get DJP’s side of the story failed. A recording for the phone number listed at the White Plains office said the phone was temporarily unavailable.
Universal International Max is represented by Boston attorneys Michael J. Licker and Emily J. Nash.