On April 1, 2016, a single-seat plane circled over Miami Beach with an unusual banner in tow: "CLUB SPACE — PLEASE PAY YOUR BANNER BILL!"
The not-so-subtle message was no April Fool's joke, but rather the boiling point of a conflict that, according to the company Aerial Banners, Inc., had been brewing for years. The banner company says it only took to the skies as
"They're always behind but they usually always pay," says Dana Benyo, who runs the company with her husband, Bob. "They were typically always six months to a year behind in all honesty," Bob adds.
But Space says those allegations are nonsense. And now the club has hit back in court, suing the
Space's attorney in the case — which was filed in Miami-Dade civil court on April 1 — Allan S. Reiss, tells New Times that the real reason Aerial Banners flew the banner is because they were upset that the club gave its business to a competitor. Now, Space says, Aerial Banners is not only holding its banner (which Space claims is its own property)
"The false and defamatory statement "CLUB SPACE — PLEASE PAY YOUR BANNER BILL!" which was flown on April 1,
Bob Benyo says Space's lawsuit is an overreaction. "It was a very nice banner," he says from his office in Pembroke Pines' North Perry Airport, where he commands a national fleet of over 50 planes. "It was a very nice message."
Benyo also stands by his claims that the club refused to pay up for past ads.
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"The biggest problem that I had is that they would say, 'Oh, no. We don't owe you that.' And we'd say, 'Yeah you do. You guys never paid that invoice.' And that went on for the last three of four years," Bob says. "They got customer service like no one ever got. So to get treated the way they treated me just really pissed me
off,because it was unnecessary."
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So, when frustration peaked, Bob and Dana sent out a banner with their own message. "You know, if somebody doesn't return your calls and your emails, you've got to get their attention," Dana says.
And get their attention they did. Space is suing "for damages in excess of $15,000." But Dana and Bob aren't spooked. In fact, Bob says he plans to fly more banners calling out Club Space unless a judge orders him to stop.
Bob also says he will countersue for Space's nonpayment. "So now we're going to sue each other and I'm going to fly a bunch of banners anyway," he says.
"There'll be more," Dana promises.