| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Jan 14 A former hotel owner sued
Marriott International Inc on Monday, accusing the
hospitality company of conspiring with a labor organization to
control which Marriott-branded hotels unionized.
The plaintiff, Madison 92nd Street Associates LLC, alleged
that as a result of a conspiracy, workers at its hotel on 92nd
Street in Manhattan unionized, which led to poor financial
performance and ultimately forced the hotel into bankruptcy in
2011, five years after it opened.
The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, seeks in
excess of $400 million in damages.
Madison alleged that in 2002 it was fraudulently induced to
enter an agreement that gave Marriott affiliate Courtyard
Management Corporation the rights to manage Madison's hotel
under the Courtyard name.
Madison chose Marriott because of the assurance it received
from Marriott that it was a non-union company and that Courtyard
would employ a non-union workforce at the hotel, according to
Madison alleged that at the time it had entered into the
management agreement, Marriott was secretly negotiating with the
New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO.
Those talks, according to the lawsuit, led to a deal in
which Marriott agreed to help the union organize at certain
Marriott branded hotels, including the 92nd Street hotel, in
exchange for not doing so at Marriott's flagship properties in
After Marriott and the union concluded the secret agreement,
they negotiated another deal that increased the number of
permanent employees at the 92nd Street hotel by more than 47
percent, Madison alleged. As a result of the agreement, the
hotel's operating costs increased by $2 million annually while
its net operating income dropped by approximately fifty percent
to $4 million per year, according to the lawsuit.
"Marriott and Courtyard have fraudulently enriched
themselves at the expense of hotel owners and workers throughout
New York City for over a decade now," said Nicholas Gravante,
Jr. of the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, an attorney for
A spokesman for Marriott said the firm does not comment on
pending litigation. John Turchiano, a spokesman for the New York
Hotel and Motel Trades Council, said: "We have seen the lawsuit
and feel that it is totally without merit."
The lawsuit filed Monday is part of a long-running dispute
between Madison and Marriott over the 92nd Street hotel. In
2009, Madison sued Courtyard in New York state court. Madison
recently amended its complaint in that case.
The case filed Monday is Madison 92nd Street Associates, LLC
v. Marriott International, Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern
District of New York, No. 13-0291.