The ugly battle between Nashville, Tenn., jewelers has just gotten uglier.
Nashville-based Genesis Diamonds is suing a competing jewelry store, involved in a critical TV broadcast last month, for allegedly making “false and malicious statements” to shoppers who inquired about the three-store chain.
In May, Genesis was featured on a two-part broadcast on local station WSMV that criticized it for using grading reports from EGL International, which its on-air experts said has “lower standards.” (EGL International has denied its standards are lower, and Genesis owner Boaz Ramon has told JCK that it simply uses a variety of reports, like most jewelers, and that his store works to keep every customer satisfied.)
According to a copy of the suit, in May and June Genesis sent two undercover employees to shop at competitor Village Jewelers, whose owner George Khoury was interviewed for the broadcast. (Khoury is a former Genesis employee, the suit says.)
Legal papers, filed June 16 in the Chancery Court for Davidson County, Tenn., charge that during one recorded expedition, a Village employee made a series of critical comments about Genesis when the undercover employees told him they bought a diamond there. Among the alleged comments that Genesis calls “false and defamatory”: that the store “tricks” its customers; that it practices “bait and switch”; that it’s a “fraud”; and that it avoids prosecution by opening and closing stores in different areas. The employee also allegedly told the visitors that a group of local jewelers were working together to “stop” Genesis.
The suit charges defamation, violations of the Lanham Act, and other counts, and seeks an injunction against further false comments by Village Jewelers as well as unspecified damages.
“There have been a series of damaging, unlawful, and false statements made about our client,” Genesis’ lawyer told The Tennessean. “Given the malicious nature of this conduct, our client had no recourse but to file suit against Village Jewelers to ensure these actions cease and that these attacks on Genesis Diamonds end immediately.”
Attorney Brian Manookian, who once sued Genesis over a ring he claimed was overgraded and overpriced and is hoping to launch a class-action suit against the jeweler, called the filing a “scare suit” with “absolutely no merit,” and he expects it will be dismissed.