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Luray Caverns sued for alleged contract breach

By Sally Voth svoth@nvdaily.com

An audio tour company claims in a federal lawsuit that Luray Caverns Corp. should be made to pay at least $500,000 in a contract dispute.

Norwalk, Conn.-based Antenna Audio Inc. filed the complaint Aug. 10 in U.S. District Court, according to online court records.

The suit alleges Luray Caverns improperly terminated the contract it had with the company and has left bills unpaid.

"AAI is the world leader in the development, production and implementation of interpretive audio tours for museums, exhibitions, historic sites, and other visitor attractions," the suit states. "The tours create an interesting and interactive experience for visitors while conveying the themes and stories AAI's clients want to share with their customers."

The company has produced tours at more than 1,000 sites around the world, including Graceland, the Guggenheim Museum, the Vatican, Stonehenge, Ellis Island and the Louvre, according to the civil complaint.

The Page County tourist attraction executed a five-year contract with AAI in September 2008, according to the suit. The term was to run March 1, 2009-March 1, 2014.

The tours were produced in multiple languages, the suit states. The contract included equipment on which individual tourists could hear the tour, it states.

Luray Caverns agreed to pay AAI 50 cents for each person who visited the site, with a minimum of $200,000 per year, the complaint states. Payments were to be made every month.

"With the Audio Tours underway, it quickly became clear that the LCC staff was either overwhelmed or unwilling to ensure the proper use and maintenance of the equipment," the complaint states.

The alleged improper use included letting visitors use the players' external speakers, rather than listen to the tour on headphones; not keeping track of the inventory; and not properly rotating the speakers.

Shortly before Memorial Day last year, Luray Caverns wanted AAI to increase its stock of players from 1,500 to 2,000, according to the complaint. AAI sent an extra 300.

In June 2011, Luray Caverns told AAI that because it didn't get the players increased to 2,000, it decided to "operate under a guided-tour procedure instead of using the audio tour" to shorten wait times, the suit states.

Luray Caverns also asked for a recommendation of a different type of player, and AAI offered to replace the inventory with an alternate, according to the suit.

Last August, Luray Cavenrs sent a default notice to AAI in regard to equipment maintenance and repair, according to the complaint, which states it tried to discuss the situation with the tourist attraction.

Last September, caverns lawyers formally notified AAI that the corporation was terminating the contract, the suit states.

"At all times, AAI has remained ready, willing and able to perform its duties under the contract," it states. "In the end, AAI had no choice but to demand payment for amounts due and owing prior to the illicit termination as well as for lost revenue for the remaining term of the Contract."

The caverns hadn't filed a response as of Friday afternoon.

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