A wine-flavored photo shoot for a glossy magazine, tailor-made designer duds, $5,000 to spend at JB Hudson Jewelers and a glittery weekend in the Big Apple with dinner at a Soho hot spot.
Sound glamorous and fun? Janel and Brian Goff thought so. The Twin Cities couple submitted the winning bid of $18,500 on the "Little and Big Apple Fashionista" package at the "Diva Noir," a gala fundraiser for the DIVA Minnesota charity in March 2006. But the deal between the Goffs and DIVA Minnesota Inc., turned sour enough to land in Hennepin County District Court.
The couple sued, claiming DIVA failed to deliver on the promised package. In response, DIVA claimed the Goffs used many of the gift certificates in the package, but then successfully reversed the $18,500 charge to their credit card.
"After securing these thousands of dollars in custom-tailored high-fashion clothing and jewelry, Janel Goff began to express dissatisfaction with her purchase," according to a response filed on behalf of DIVA by their lawyers at Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly.
The status of the case remained open until late Friday when computer records showed it closed. DIVA lawyer Aaron Mills Scott said the matter has been settled "amicably," but a confidentiality agreement bars him from saying more. The Goffs' lawyer Susanne Glasser did not return phone messages left at her Edina office.
DIVA's website describes the organization as a "charity based in the fashion design industry" that "raises money through creative events, and awards grants to AIDS service organizations."
The package was the brainchild of Blythe Brenden and Deb Hopp, described as two DIVA "femmes fatales" in court documents. The two women identified businesses and individuals from their own networks willing to donate, documents said.
What was included
The goods included two plane tickets to New York City, two nights at a five-star Park Avenue hotel and dinner at Cipriani Downtown where a bowl of gazpacho goes for $13.95. The successful bidders were to attend a taping of Isaac Mizrahi's show and meet the designer.
Even before the successful bidders left the Twin Cities, the "beginnings of a wardrobe" would be provided by local designers Aglaia, Kit Cusick and Jason Hammerberg.
The winners were to be the subject of a photo shoot for Mpls.St.Paul magazine, with hair done by Nino Altobelli. Wine and hors d'oeuvres were to be provided for the winner and eight friends at the shoot, as well as gift bags from JB Hudson worth $800.
What is not in dispute: At some point Janel Goff became disenchanted with the package.
In her lawsuit, Janel Goff said she learned that several of the promised items weren't available, including the hair design by Altobelli, a meeting with Mizrahi and women's clothing from Hammerberg.
The suit said the Goffs contacted Pamela Diamond, the executive director of DIVA, who told the Goffs that DIVA's Board of Directors would send a refund. When the Goffs didn't receive a refund, they contacted Diamond and all agreed that they could cancel the credit card charge, which the couple did, the Goffs' lawsuit shows.
On to district court
More than a year later, on Oct. 31, 2007, the Goffs received a letter from Kent Hensley, the board chair of DIVA saying, "Your actions amount to theft." DIVA filed a claim against the couple in conciliation court in late 2007. In January 2008, the Goffs sued DIVA seeking unspecified damages for defamation, deceptive trade practices, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract. That sent the case to district court.
DIVA tells a different story in its court filings. Initially, everyone was thrilled by the size of the Goffs' $18,500 bid.
The Goffs quickly began using the gift cards in the package. Brian Goff used the JB Hudson certificate toward the purchase of a $6,908 Rolex Yachtmaster watch in May 2006. Janel Goff received clothing from Lewis Albert Design valued at $990. Hammerberg provided Brian Goff with a tailored suit and sportcoat valued at $1,750, the motion said.
In late spring 2006, Janel Goff's personal assistant called Diamond to say she was having trouble contacting some of the local designers. Diamond volunteered to help and made some calls, but then received a call from Janel Goff expressing her frustration.
Given that one designer was hospitalized, Diamond volunteered to find a new one. But then "Janel Goff became unreasonably angry and stated that she did not 'have time to be bothered with this stupid package anymore,'" the motion said.
The legal battle followed. The resolution apparently will never be made public.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747