PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Fashion jewelry maker Alex and Ani has been given the go-ahead by a federal judge to sue BJ's Wholesale Club and others over $1 million worth of charm bracelets it says it was tricked into selling at discount prices.
U.S. District Judge William Smith described the case as a "bewildering ballad of bungled bangle banditry."
He declined Friday to dismiss several claims brought against Natick, Massachusetts-based BJ's by Alex and Ani, the Cranston-based maker of what it calls "spiritually uplifting, positive-energy jewelry." He also allowed to go forward most claims against companies and people who arranged to buy more than 26,000 bangle bracelets from Alex and Ani for about $250,000, a quarter of the retail price.
Alex and Ani says a California-based company, Elite Level Consulting, pretended it was going to give out its trendy bracelets in VIP goodie bags at a film festival and at a dressage competition, or as the judge describes it in his order, "horse ballet." Instead, those bracelets ended up sold at BJ's stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Providence accuses several people and companies of wrongdoing, including Elite Level Consulting, which said it was going to use the bracelets in goodie bags at the Austin Film Festival and at the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge in Palm Beach, Florida, but never did.
Also sued are the Colorado-based suppliers to BJ's, who had asked the California company to acquire the bracelets after Alex and Ani rejected their previous attempt to buy bracelets for BJ's.
Alex and Ani says BJ's is culpable because it purchased bracelets from the supplier even after the jewelry maker told the warehouse chain the jewelry had been obtained through fraudulent means. BJ's has argued it bought the bracelets in good faith.
Elite Level Consulting says there was no legally enforceable agreement that it would not resell the bracelets.
The Colorado companies had argued that they were not involved with the agreement between Alex and Ani and the California company that bought the bracelets at a discount, but the judge found that there was sufficient evidence that they acted in concert to dupe the jewelry maker to allow most claims against them to go forward.
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