Entrepreneur, shirtmaker file suit against After Six

September 12, 1992|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

Charles S. Ezrine, a Baltimore entrepreneur who was thwarted in his effort to bring After Six Inc. to Maryland, has joined in a suit against the Philadelphia tuxedo maker charging that it is interfering in his efforts to set up a firm to distribute formal wear.

The suit, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, comes three weeks after Mr. Ezrine pulled out of a deal to buy After Six and move it to the recently closed Gleneagles rainwear plant in Bel Air.

He said the persistent and aggressive opposition by the union representing the company's workers in Philadelphia was primarily to blame for the deal's failure. But Mr. Ezrine said at the time that the experience left him with "an appetite for formal wear."

In the first week of September, he started Park Avenue Formals Inc., which will distribute designer-brand formal wear to rental and retail outlets, Mr. Ezrine said.

The suit against After Six was filed by Mr. Ezrine, Aetna Shirt Corp., Saul B. Offit, Howard P. Offit and Marc A. Offit. Aetna is a Baltimore County manufacturer of men's formal shirts and a distributor of jewelry and other formal wear. The Offits are officers and directors of Aetna. Mr. Ezrine is a director of Aetna.

Aetna has license agreements with After Six to use the company's trademark and logo in the manufacture and distribution of jewelry and accessories for formal wear. After Six is now contending that restrictive covenants in those agreements prevent the Offits and Mr. Ezrine from competing against After Six, according to the lawsuit.

"After Six, acting through its chairman and chief executive officer, Victor E. Ameye Jr., determined to frustrate the investor group's plan to compete with After Six in the manufacture and distribution of tuxedos and related products," the suit said.

Besides threatening the individual plaintiffs, the lawsuit said, After Six has also made threats to J. Shoeneman Inc., the licensee of the Christian Dior trademark, to discourage it from granting a sublicense to Aetna or the new company.

These threats have created "substantial controversy" among the parties and the plaintiffs have been "wrongfully deterred from acquiring valuable business interests," the lawsuit said.

Mr. Ameye did not return a phone call to his office in Philadelphia.

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