People are still upset and slightly embarrassed seeing the beloved Citrus Bowl name changed to Camping World Stadium. Well, here’s another reason not to like having that name on our stadium. Camping World and its CEO Marcus Lemonis remain tangled in an ongoing legal battle for conspiring against a woman and interfering with an equestrian event. Just the kind of sponsor we want for the City of Orlando and our public venue, huh?
WPLG-TV, an ABC affiliate in the Miami area, aired an investigative report June 3rd at 11 pm regarding the ongoing legal dispute between Camping World, its CEO Marcus Lemonis, and Florida RV Sales of Broward dealer Gigi Stetler. Stetler has been interviewed by investigative reporter Bob Norman regarding a situation in which she was forced out of a campground she developed for a local equestrian event. She was also forced out of the competition and barred from the grounds after she contends the event organizer and Camping World conspired to push her out.
Stetler had been a major sponsor of the event and operated the campground at the facility until 2010, when she alleges that Bellissimo Enterprises and Camping World had conspired against her.
There are also reports Lemonis had aggressively attempted to buy Stetler’s company numerous times, but he was rebuffed. Lemonis reportedly pulled other stunts in attempts to strong arm Stetler’s RV Sales into selling to Camping World.
Stetler said email communications between Marcus Lemonis and his wife, Ila (who is also in the equestrian world owning a farm called Glory Days Farm in Illinois) obtained during the discovery process of the lawsuit indicate that Ila had attempted to influence the decision to prevent Stetler from even competing at the event.
After the 2009 Winter Equestrian Festival in August, Stetler attempted to negotiate terms for sponsorship of the 2010 event. But, the complaint alleges the new event organizer, Bellissimo Entities, required Stetler to release the names of her camping customers, how much they paid for their campsites and the total income generated from the business. That information was to be used to determine compensation for the 2010 festival.
Stetler claims Bellissimo Entities required her to forward her confidential client list, her budget, copies of client contracts, financial information about her clients, a profit and loss statement, her business model for the campground operation as well as her entire business plan — before the amount of rent was determined.
On Oct. 21, 2009, Stetler claims Bellissimo Entities informed her that the firm had entered into a contract with Camping World and that her services would no longer be needed. Four minutes after the call ended, Stetler said she was e-mailed a press release announcing the Camping World partnership for the 2010 Winter Equestrian Festival.
In addition to sending the press release to Stetler, Bellissimo Entities also sent it to all of Stetler’s customers by mass e-mail, the complaint noted.
Stetler had to file a protest with the United States Equestrian Federation and request a full day hearing in Kentucky.
Stetler won that hearing and was able to compete again at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
This lawsuit followed shortly after.