A Berkeley bicyclist has sued the organizer of the AIDS Vaccine Rides for
allegedly misrepresenting how much money raised by the events ends up going
to medical research.
Mark Cloutier, who is a lawyer, on Wednesday sued Los Angeles-based Pallotta
Teamworks in San Francisco Superior Court. He alleged the company has
misrepresented and mismanaged the amount of money distributed to nonprofit
agencies for AIDS research.
Pallotta organizes several bicycle rides across the country to raise money
for AIDS research, breast cancer research and other causes.
Cloutier said Pallotta delivered less than one third of the $28 million it
received from its 2000 and 2001 Vaccine Rides to charities that conduct AIDS
Cloutier rode in a 2001 ride in Alaska, raising $3,000 of the $19.5 million
in income Pallotta reported from it and two other rides that year in Montana
and Canada. Of that amount, 21.4 percent was given to three AIDS vaccine
research centers, according to Pallotta.
"In our view, this is an abysmal result and one that cries out for a
resolution," said Victor Schachter, Cloutier's attorney.
Cloutier said he feels misled and disappointed by Pallotta.
"I personally was moved to action when I discovered how little of the funds
donated to AIDS vaccine research actually went to work developing a
vaccine," Cloutier said.
Pallotta spokeswoman Janna Sidley dismissed the suit as "wholly and entirely
Pallotta announced in March that it had canceled the Alaska and Montana
rides because of disappointing results. Overall, Pallotta's rides return on
average 57 percent of donor contributions to charity.
"Twenty-one percent is not an acceptable number to us either," Pallotta
spokeswoman Lisa Cohen said.
Cloutier is seeking class-action status for his suit to represent all riders
who have participated in the fund-raising rides during 2000 and 2001.
Schachter said they also seek a court order to force Pallotta to contribute
anywhere from $1 million to several million dollars from the proceeds of the
2001 vaccine rides to the three charities.
Cohen refused to comment on the lawsuit but said that Pallotta never
guarantees what percentage of its proceeds go to charity.
Pallotta Teamworks has been embroiled in another legal battle with the
organizers of the AIDS/LifeCycle ride, which scheduled a competing event
weeks before Pallotta's ride June 2-8.
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center
accused Pallotta of mismanaging the event and said they're better off
running it themselves.