A group of New Orleans residents are now suing a national travel agency they say defrauded them. This comes after a series of FOX 8 Defender investigations delving into Festiva Adventure Club.
Thursday afternoon, several New Orleans residents and their attorney filed a class action lawsuit against Festiva in Civil District Court. They're looking to either get their money back or to be allowed to travel to the destinations they say Festiva promised to provide.
Attorney Carl Finley says more than half a dozen Festiva Adventure Club customers have now approached him asking for help.
"Our clients tell us when they do try to invoke their membership privileges, nothing is ever available and their getting frustrated. And that's when they asked us to take a look at it," Finley says.
Finley says he's hearing the same story again and again.
People such as Ronald Dwyer say Festiva never delivered on promised free gifts like vacations and vehicles.
"They told me I had one of 3 prizes. A Ford Explorer, a 42 inch TV or a seven day cruise," Dwyer recalled.
Finley's lawsuit calls into question the way dollars are being financed and collected. He relates contract agreements to a mortgage with predatory lending terms.
It's now up to a judge to decide whether to freeze Festiva's assets as this lawsuit requests. Finley explains Festiva has many branches.
"Festiva Resort, Festiva Mngmt Group, FESTIVA Adventure Club," said Finley.
He wants to ensure Festiva doesn't make itself judgment proof and that there's enough money to make his clients whole if a judge or jury decides to agree with Finley's arguments.
"We're going to ask for a jury trial in. We want folks who have been there and done that. We want the average Joe on the street to make a decision on whether or not this is fair."
Meanwhile, Louisiana's Attorney General has opened both a civil and criminal investigation into Festiva after seeing the Defender's reports. Those are separate from the lawsuit and ongoing.
Festiva says it hasn't been served with the lawsuit yet, so its legal department cant comment on the specific allegations. But in general, Festiva says the charges are unfounded.
Festiva reports on Monday, July 4, its 20 properties had an average occupancy rate of 87 percent or that out of 1554 rooms, 1359 were booked. The company says that shows members are able to visit advertised properties and that there are available rooms.
If you've have a complaint against Festiva, or a different consumer problem, you can contact the FOX 8 Defenders at 1-877-670-6397