No cruise ship or cruise line story would be complete without conflicting public reports and news articles and the almost obligatory lawsuit with somebody suing for breach of contract. It's the nature of the industry.
It seemed like one of the greatest ideas on the high seas to Donald V. Allen. Build a massive floating condo complex, call at ports where the best international events were taking place, sell the condos to the rich and famous looking for a unique investment property. The idea likely formed at this time, after the private residence cruise ship, The World, began catching the media and investors' interest.
An office was set up on the world-renown, prestigious Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, a perfect place to be seen by those who could afford multi-million dollar floating condos. At least, that was the idea Allen, from Culver City, California, had back in 2001, according to his bankruptcy records.
Allen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy January 12, 2011, listing his employment as Orphalese Holding Inc as CEO and President, later known as Ophalese Global Strategies Inc. The Orphalese cruise ship was similar to that of resident cruise ship The World, though said to be the twice the size of The World. Allen says the idea was his, he founded the project along with a woman who later sued him.
In a federal lawsuit, 1:2012cv00169, filed February 24, 2012, Donald Allen, as Debtor in Possession, Bankruptcy, case number 2:11-bk11520RN vs. Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb, a New Mexico professional corporation and Does 1-25, Allen requested a jury trial on five counts.
The firm named in the complaint was the law office handling the transaction between Allen and his investors, and states that Allen specifically worked with attorney Bernard Rodey. It claims among other charges, Breach of Fiduciary Duties and Fraud.
Allen claims in court documents that the The Orphalese Project was essentially stolen from him, his signature from documents he reviewed and signed, placed on documents he didn't review and never signed. Allen says he didn't become aware of the unauthorized signatures that gave investors control of his company with the project until 2009. That was the about the same time new investors were being publicized in the media.
The documents were part of a transaction between Allen and investors who were putting up $11.5 million in investment capital to get the project off the ground. Those documents Allen says he didn't sign, resulted in $240,000,000 in damages, according to court documents.
Bankruptcy documents state Allen has a 24% ownership interest in Oceana De Dios, the international corporation set up for The Orphalese. It specifies 6.2 shares of class B and 2400 shares of Class A with the company having a net value of $1,000,000,000.00, for a claimed value to Allen of $240,000,000.00.
There is also mention of a foreign book deal with $30,000 income generated from commission on sales of licensing rights in the year 2011.
The lawsuit against the law firm has roots back to May 27, 2009, when the case made it's way to United States District Court in Central California. From there, it went to Nevada, then New Mexico, as Allen chased a jurisdiction for his claim, filing pro se.
By January 12, 2011, still chasing a venue for his case, debts mounting, Allen filed bankruptcy. With so many creditors looking for their money, the case against the law firm pressed on, with the most recent filing in New Mexico.
Allen owed a bundle to creditors. Legal fees to one law firm dating back to 2008 amounted to $740,000.00, a paltry amount compared to the $2,500,000.00 he owed to a Chinese company. Then there was the $1,650,200.00 lost in a contract failure for the movie rights to The Orphalese Project story.
There were three court order settlements, one to David Robb for $1,000,000.00 and another for $4,000,000.00 to Oceana DeDios both listed at the same address on Rodeo Drive, Allen had listed as his employment since 2001.
The third court ordered settlement went to Victoria Jin in the amount of $4,380,223.00. Victoria Jin is listed as the co-founder along with Allen for The Orphalese Project, according to the February 24, 2012 New Mexico lawsuit complaint. Jin, as stated in court documents sued and won a judgement against Allen for breach of her employment agreements based on his personal guarantee the company would pay her; which apparently, they didn't do, hence her lawsuit against Allen.
Whether Allen's alleged complaint issues are factual or not, he may find the New Mexico court won't side with him on the issues in a civil complaint, unless he can prove count #5, fraud.
The Cornell Law education website states, "The New Mexico courts have made it clear that the rules governing the ethical requirements of attorneys will not be applied against attorneys for malpractice standards. See, e.g., García v. Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb, 106 N.M. 757, 750 P2d 118 (1988) (stating “[h]istorically, the Code was established to discipline attorneys. It was not intended to provide a foundation for civil liability.... [Likewise, the Rules] are not designed to be a basis of civil liability”). In addition, the Scope section of the Rules of Professional Conduct says “[v]iolation of a rule should not give rise to a cause of action nor should it create any presumption that a legal duty has been breached."
The 105,000 ton planned cruise ship is now known as Utopia, not The Orphalese. Condos are sold on a website utopiaresidences.com, which lists David Robb as Chairman. Allen claims there was a conflict of interest because Robb's father, John D. Robb was a senior partner in the law firm Rodey was part of and the resulting issues of alleged improper paperwork benefited David Robb. Allen claims the firm should have recluse themselves from handling the transactions with investors due to a conflict of interest.
A website designed for Orphalese Global Strategies outlines Allen's education and employment history including being President and Vice-Chairman of Vista Hospital System, Founder and Chief Executive Hightop Sports Productions, a multi million dollar entertainment company specializing in TV Production, Audio Book Publishing, Recording, Music Production, Sound Design and Feature Film Editing, Director of Employment, Planning and Staffing at UCLA Medical Center, Regional Recruiting Manager for Kaiser Permanente, Vice President & Manager of Great Western Bank and Management Liaison Officer for California Federal Savings & Loan.
Other accomplishments listed are Co-Chair of the Jefferson Trust, which is in charge of the Major donors to the Democratic Party and he ran for the United States Congress for the 27th District. He's commonly referred to as "Mr. Donald" in some areas of the website, which is oddly similar to, The Donald, the nickname for Donald Trump.
On the same website Victoria Jin is listed as CEO, Chief Strategist of Orphalese Global Strategies, Inc. Her experience is stated as, "Ms. Jin is admitted to practice law in California and in the People's Republic of China. Her practice focuses on Sino-American business and economic issues, including international trade, corporate finance and investment. She provides strategic counseling to both Chinese and American business enterprises, especially in areas related to technology, capital markets and real estate. She also specializes in Chinese economic law, which includes foreign investment law, corporate, and securities law, contracts, banking, tax, land use planning, and intellectual property law."
The website www.theorphalese.com is no longer owned by Allen et al. The website appears to have been launched in August 2003, according to Alexa.com. By 2007 the website was quite active. The last update by Alexa shows the domain name being used by Orphalese was January 30, 2009. By December 2009, the entire project had changed, drastically.
The promotion on the website from 2003 to January 2009, outlined a basic condo with 2 bedroom and 2 baths in 1,107 square feet for $1.8 million plus $2500 a month ownership fees. The largest condo, the Penthouse, was selling for $10 million plus $6,500 a month, for a 3,182 square foot condo including 5 bedrooms and 5.5 baths. There is no mention of 200 hotel suites that will be rented to non-owners, though that feature is mentioned in news reports in late 2009 and early 2010. The website also lists the company name Orphalese Cruise Lines.