SYRACUSE — The future of Travel Lite, Syracuse, is still uncertain and at least one lawsuit has been filed against company owner Dustin Johns and his wife, Lindsey L. Johns, East Wawasee Drive, Syracuse.
Michael J. DeWitt filed a complaint against the Johns Friday, Sept. 20, in Kosciusko Superior Court for fraud, breach of contract and violation of the Indiana Uniform Securities Act. The complaint calls for Johns to return the three parcels of property that DeWitt sold to him, seeks $2.1 million in damages for stock promised in Travel Lite plus 8% interest.
The complaint states around July 14, 2018, DeWitt and Johns entered into a purchase agreement for property at 11199 NE Wawasee Drive, 11200 NE Wawasee Drive and 11190 NE Wawasee Drive. The agreement stated the purchase price would be $4 million and Johns would transfer 3.5 shares of Travel Lite Inc. stock, valued at $2 million at closing, as partial payment of the purchase price, along with $1.885 million in cash at closing and $15,000 earnest money deposited.
The real estate, by warranty deed, was transferred July 20, however, DeWitt is claiming Johns intentionally misrepresented the value of Travel Lite stock by providing fraudulent financial information and made the misrepresentation knowing it to be false with the intent to have the real estate transferred.
Documents state Johns failed to perform and breached the purchase agreement by accepting the real estate, but not transferring the stock valued at $2.1 million.
The violation of the Indiana Uniform Securities Act states the sale of the company stock in exchange for the property is covered by the Indiana Uniform Securities Act and Johns allegedly employed a device, scheme or artifice to defraud Dewitt by providing him fraudulent information regarding the company and the stock. Documents state Johns made untrue statements of material facts.
Closed Since Late August
Officials with Travel Lite told Syracuse town officials the plant was undergoing temporary layoffs. However, a former employee stated the company closed the door around Aug. 28 with vendors going unpaid and warranty work not being done on units sold for more than a year. The employee, who wished to remain anonymous, stated when employees went to get checks the vendors were at the company attempting to get their products back.
The closure came after Johns was involved in a single vehicle accident on South Harkless Drive, south of Palm Drive, Syracuse early Saturday, Aug. 10. He was arrested Sept. 11 in connection with that accident for operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to .15 or more.
Allegedly units are still being sold, but can never be repaired under the warranty sold with the units, as Johns had closed the company. The employee additionally stated in mid August it was announced to employees Johns had stepped down and another individual was brought into the company to run the plant.
Information was also received from the employee all the properties owned by Johns has liens and loans against those properties.
One of the buyers has posted his experience with the company had become a nightmare. The buyer noted in the last three weeks he had a complete run around with the warranty department. “The unit I bought was not built to code and no one can fix it except the factory and they won’t answer their phones.” Another customer noted he ordered a unit in January and received it the end of May, but it was not constructed correctly or completely and he is waiting for the dealer to repair it, but the dealer was waiting on Travel Lite to provide the part.
Other complaints were provided by buyers or potential buyers including one from California who was expecting a unit in early August but had not yet received the unit. He notes in a post when the dealership calls to find out what is going on, calls are not returned. He had put a $9,000 deposit on his purchase.
RV Publications has published the company is undergoing a restructuring, but according to the employee, the company is not undergoing restructuring, but has been falling apart for a long time.
Moves To Syracuse
Travel Lite RV, that is still listed with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office with a principal office address at 71913 CR 23, New Paris, was started in April 1998, purchased seven lots in the Syracuse Technology Park in 2017. Johns, who was listed as owner of Innovation Inc LLC, purchased the lots at a cost of $770,563. He was also listed as owner of Indiana RV LLC.
The company built two buildings on the property, one building at 10,000 square feet for a fiberglass shop, with a second building at 54,000 square feet for a manufacturing facility. The expansion is said to have cost $5.2 million. The company is a recreational vehicle manufacturer of lightweight travel trailers and truck campers.