Lawsuits and possible countersuits in Bass Pro timeshare partnership

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The parent of Bass Pro Shops is seeking $10 million in damages in a lawsuit against Bluegreen Vacations Corp., its partner in a timeshare program. South Florida Business reports that Bass Pro LLC and its affiliate, Big Cedar LLC, filed the lawsuit April 17 in the Western District of Missouri. The lawsuit claims that Bluegreen violated the marketing agreement by refusing to pay Bass Pro for timeshare commissions.

The lawsuit also claims that the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company reduced commissions when customers defaulted, even if that default occurred years after the initial sale.

Bluegreen markets and sells timeshare resorts through its Big Cedar Vacations affiliate near Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo. According to the news site, Bluegreen owns 51 percent of the venture, and Bass Pro Shops owns 49 percent.

The lawsuit alleges that, under the marketing agreement, Bluegreen must provide staffing at the retail kiosks in Bass Pro stores and cover the expenses of those operations. Bluegreen, according to the lawsuit, imposed a “tour generation fee” on Bass Pro to cover its expenses. Bass Pro also accused Bluegreen of engaging in “high-pressure salesmanship,” which violates the marketing agreement.

Bluegreen said that the Bass Pro Shops arrangement accounted for 14 percent of its timeshare sales in 2018.

Bass Pro Shops had notified Bluegreen on March 22 that it planned to cancel the deal by April 19. The deadline was extended to April 27 in an effort to allow time for a "good faith discussion," according to Bluegreen, but the lawsuit was filed.

Bluegreen said in a press release that Bass Pro’s claims about its customer service are untrue and that it has not violated the marketing agreement. Bluegreen said it offered Bass Pro $1.85 million to resolve the dispute. Bluegreen also said it wants to extend the marketing arrangement to Cabela’s stores, which Bass Pro acquired in 2017.

“Bringing a lawsuit prior to the expiration of the cure period was not appropriate, and, if the matter is not successfully resolved, will be an independent and additional breach of the agreement by Bass Pro,” Bluegreen said in the release. “We do recognize, however, that calling upon the court to resolve the dispute would expose Bass Pro’s claims to review by an independent third party and resolve with finality the issues between the parties. We believe that if Bass Pro’s claims were established — which we believe unlikely — the amount of Bluegreen’s exposure relating to the monetary issues raised by Bass Pro pursuant to the agreement would be less than $20 million.

“If no resolution is reached and Bass Pro proceeds with its cancellation of Bluegreen’s access to the Bass Pro marketing channels, Bluegreen intends to seek damages from Bass Pro in excess of $300 million for breach of contract, willful misconduct and lack of good faith,” Bluegreen said.

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