Lehigh Valley

ArtsQuest responds to 'whistleblower' lawsuit

Organization claims lawsuit is frivolous

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - ArtsQuest filed a response Friday in federal court to the lawsuits recently brought against the organization by a former employee.

Rebecca Stoneback filed two federal lawsuits in June against the Bethlehem organization.

She said she was unjustly fired after she blew the whistle on, what she calls, fraudulent business practices.

ArtsQuest's attorney, Patrick Reilly, said the whistleblower suit is "baseless because there was no illegal activity taking place and the plaintiff's position was not terminated; The Gallery Shoppe at the Banana Factory was permanently closed, thereby eliminating the position."

The New Jersey woman says that $70 beer steins sold at MusikFest aren't handcrafted in Germany as advertised, but are actually made in China for a fraction of the cost.

According to Reilly, "ArtsQuest has never ordered, purchased or paid for any products from Xiamen Fortune Import & Export Company in China. The paperwork from Xiamen referenced in the class action lawsuit is in fact a customs invoice requested by the importer and not a billing or purchase invoice reflecting an order from ArtsQuest.

The suits allege that ArtsQuest conspired to commit fraud by saying the products were made in the Getz Factory in Germany. Stoneback's suit says hundreds of the products have been sold- both in store and online.

Reilly responded: "ArtsQuest has never and will never intentionally mislead its customers or misrepresent its products.

"The organization has long purchased its Musikfest steins through an importer, and these steins are indeed manufactured in Germany in accordance with federal law."

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