Aiello PR, Novitas ‘clashed on politics, clients as merger soured’

Justin Wingerter at BusinessDen: “Two prominent Denver public relations firms are entangled in a public dispute over their relations. At issue are bold claims of incompetence, bad faith and disparaging political remarks. At stake are hard-earned reputations and hundreds of thousands of dollars. … Details of their doomed plan to merge are spelled out in Denver District Court documents.”

“In late 2020, (Novitas’ Michelle) Lyng and Wendy Aiello met to discuss the idea of Novitas buying Aiello PR, so Aiello could retire. Novitas claims that a purchase agreement was approved verbally; Aiello PR denies that. Regardless, the two began working together as a joint venture. … After Southlands Mall, an Aiello client, was transferred to the new joint venture, Aiello PR didn’t receive the 10-percent cut it was supposed to. The same happened after another Aiello client, Celebration Chevrolet in Aurora, was transferred to the joint venture.”

“Worse yet, Novitas’ ‘poor work, lack of resources and lack of experienced employees’ led the car dealership to fire them both, according to Aiello PR. For its part, Novitas claims it was Aiello PR that ‘missed calls with clients and, when attending calls, was unprepared for the call, leaning on Novitas to perform all work.’ … At times, the differing social views of Lyng and Aiello were on display, according to court documents. Aiello claims that Lyng said she ‘hated Black Lives Matter’ at a business dinner, leading Aiello to admonish her for a perceived lack of professionalism. A Novitas attorney says Lyng’s criticisms of BLM were fair and made at an internal Novitas holiday party.”

“Novitas wants a Denver jury to make Aiello PR pay $330,000, plus interest and attorney fees, for breach of contract. Aiello PR wants a jury to make Novitas pay an undetermined amount for breach of an agreement, unjust enrichment, fraudulent inducement and bad faith dealing.”

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