Caesars Unit Sued Over Air Services Contract

A plan by Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. to offer chartered flights to its customers has hit some turbulence. An airline that lost out on the contract to provide the service is suing the company and a rival operator, alleging theft of trade secrets.

Aerodynamics Inc., a Michigan-based air charter operator that has filed a million federal lawsuit accusing Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., a former executive of a Caesars subsidiary and a charter service competitor of stealing trade secrets and breaching a contract, has won a preliminary injunction.

The order, issued by U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey in Nevada, prohibits the acquisition, use or disclosure of any of Aerodynamics’ and parent ADI Holdings’ proprietary information. It applies to Steven Markhoff, who heads a company called International Management Solutions, along with air charter providers Via Air and Via Airlines and Via Air Chairman Amos Vizer.

It doesn’t apply to Caesars. However, the Las Vegas-based casino giant remains a defendant in the case.

In its lawsuit, ADI claims that in October 2014, Markhoff asked the company to bid on a contract to fly casino customers to Caesars properties nationwide. Markhoff, who at the time was vice president of Caesars subsidiary ESS Travel Management, then sent “an independent forensic accountant identified only as ‘Marina’” to ADI’s offices to conduct due diligence. She was given “unfettered access” to confidential documents, according to the suit, but then left the offices later the same day after being caught using her mobile phone to photograph the documents in violation of ADI policy.

The claim alleges the accountant was actually Marina Morgan, financial director for West Virginia-based Via Air, another operator vying for the Caesars contract, which was worth an estimated $85 million.

Hours after Morgan left ADI’s offices, Markhoff e-mailed the company to conclude the due diligence, the suit claims. Three days later, he sent a letter on behalf of Caesars saying the casino company “has elected to no longer pursue a contract with ADI to operate aircraft for the Caesars air network”.

Markhoff then quit Caesars to join Via Air, which won the Caesars contract, ADI said.

ADI officials allege Markhoff and Via Air obtained sensitive details such as income forecasts, labor and maintenance costs and aircraft-lease expenses.