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BottleRock Napa Valley

A steady stream of BottleRock Napa Valley festival-goers walk along Soscol Avenue after being dropped off by a bus on May 10. J.L. Sousa/Register

The transportation company that provided bus services for the BottleRock music festival is suing festival organizers Gabe Meyers, Bob Vogt and BottleRock for $524,239.

Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation, Inc., of San Francisco, filed a lawsuit in Napa Superior Court on Monday, claiming breach of contract and breach of personal guarantees by the defendants, Vogt, Meyers, BR Festivals LLC and unnamed defendants referred to as “Does 1-50.”

According to the complaint, Bauer’s was hired to provide transportation management services including parking lot shuttles, hotel shuttles, VIP lot shuttles and campground shuttles for the 2013 BottleRock music festival, which was held on the Expo grounds May 8 to 12.

The contract for those services totaled $1.26 million, of which $524,239 has yet to be paid, said the complaint.

The lawsuit isn’t the first sign that festival organizers are facing financial difficulties. Last week, BottleRock co-founder Bob Vogt said he is actively courting investors in hopes of paying off his creditors, making promised charitable donations and planning BottleRock 2014.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 16 said last week that its members are owed $630,000 in wages from the festival. A number of other vendors reported unpaid invoices or bounced checks, with the city of Napa and Napa Valley Exposition awaiting final payment for services.

Bauer’s lawsuit is the first to be filed against BottleRock organizers. Even before the festival began, BR Festivals and a group of up to 25 unnamed defendants “began to give indications” to Bauer’s that they would not be able to “provide consideration” for those services, according to the complaint.

At that point, Meyers, Vogt and a second group of up to 25 unnamed defendants provided personal guarantees to cover the costs, the suit contends.

On May 31, Bauer’s requested payment of the amount due from Meyers, Vogt and all unnamed defendants, saying that BR Festivals had defaulted on their obligations, the suit contends.

These defendants have “dishonored their guarantees,” according to the suit.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Vogt said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit yet, but that Bauer’s had been paid more than $750,000.

Vogt said that he had issues with the original $1.26 million agreement, which he said the city required of the festival. He also questioned a $200,000 management fee that was part of the contract.

“I never agreed to it,” Vogt said of the contract with Bauer’s. When asked who signed the transportation contract with BottleRock, Vogt said, “I don’t know.”

Vogt said he also had issues with the quality of Bauer’s service. “I’m very disappointed in their operation and their performance,” he said. “Bauer’s did a poor job … They won’t be a part of any future BottleRock.”

“They’ll get the rest (of what they are owed) or we will work out something,” Vogt said.

In a phone interview, Gary Bauer, CEO of Bauer’s explained Tuesday afternoon the background behind his lawsuit.

“He signed the contract,” said Bauer of Vogt. “He also signed a personal guarantee.”

Bauer said the company provided the festival with approximately 830 buses, vans and shuttles. His drivers picked up people all over the Bay Area, including Sacramento, Oakland and San Francisco.

“We had pickups at all the hotels, Napa Pipe and the employee lots, the campground. It was a major, major undertaking,” said Bauer.

“He said we did a bad job, and that’s not the truth,” said Bauer. “You can talk to anybody that was involved with this. We did a stellar job.”

“It sounds like he’s at a position of desperation, but to throw people under the bus isn’t the right way to do things,” Bauer said.

“It’s unfortunate. I hope it doesn’t wreck the festival,” Bauer said. “I hate to see this happen but we’re out half a million dollars and we have to get paid.”

“It’s really unfortunate, but Gary Bauer (CEO of Bauer’s) and his company will get paid when Cindy Pawlcyn and Sean Knight finally release the money that they had control over,” Vogt said.

Vogt was referring to the BottleRock contract with Cindy Pawlcyn’s company, CP Cooks, to provide food and beverage services during the music festival.

“Cindy Pawlcyn has not paid us anything and they have not given us the final accounting from the festival,” Vogt said.

Pawlcyn and Knight dispute Vogt’s account. The requested accounting documentation was sent to BottleRock on time, Knight said last week. “We’re not withholding money from BottleRock,” he said.

“This whole dispute makes me sad,” said Pawlcyn Tuesday. “We want to see it resolved.”

An attorney for BottleRock did not return a call for comment on Tuesday morning.

Reached Tuesday afternoon, Hugh Linn, transportation coordinator for BottleRock, said he didn’t have any information about pending BottleRock litigation and had not been involved in the contract negotiations.

The city of Napa issued its final invoice to BottleRock last Tuesday, said Recreation Supervisor Kelly Abernathy. BottleRock’s bill for city services totaled $369,518.

Of that, $262,789 has been paid, Abernathy said. The remaining $106,730 is due July 11.

At the end of May, Napa Valley Expo CEO Joe Anderson said BottleRock’s total bill would be more than $752,000. As of May 28, the Expo had received about $442,000.

The California Highway Patrol has been paid in full by BottleRock, said Officer Anna Paulson.

BottleRock organizers had also promised as much as $1 million in donations to dozens of charities.

A case management conference on the Bauer’s case is scheduled for Nov. 26, according to court documents.


This story was updated with quotes from Gary Bauer.

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