Michael Ball, founder of Rock & Republic Enterprises Inc., frequently cites his rough and tumble upbringing which included at least one jail stint as part of the reason for his success.

The flamboyant designer's street-tough image, coupled with a long-running money spat with a former employee, could be backfiring. Fred Naggar, a former consultant for Rock & Republic, claims that Ball threw a full cocktail glass at his back in the middle of Butter, a New York nightclub. Industry hot shots were at the club for a party to kick off Intermezzo, a new trade show for boutiques around the country.

"All of a sudden, something hit my back and I didn't know what it was. I turned around and my shirt was wet and broken glass was all over the floor and Michael was standing on the couch pointing at me and shouting," Naggar said.

According to the suit, Ball screamed, "I'm going to hurt you! No one (expletive) with me!" Ball chose not to comment.

For Naggar, a former consultant with Rock & Republic, the alleged incident was the last straw. He filed suit in the Supreme Court in the State of New York, County of New York last week. He claims he is owed commissions for October 2005 through Spring 2006, or about $500,000. Naggar is also seeking punitive damages and attorney's fees.

The suit alleges breach of contract, unjust enrichment, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful eviction.

Naggar owns a Canadian distribution company that acquired the rights to Rock & Republic in early 2003. Naggar sales were eye-popping; his sales in Canada, a much smaller market, topped those of the brand in the U.S. Ball brought him on to serve as a consultant.

Naggar worked for Rock & Republic until late 2005, taking on responsibilities including sales and design. Then the relationship began to sour and Naggar said he stopped receiving his commission payments. He claims that when he attempted to confront Ball at the company headquarters, he was escorted out and evicted from the apartments he sublet from the company, in Los Angeles and New York, respectively.

Naggar has since founded A & F; Apparel USA, a New York-based company that owns Glamour Campaign, a brand that sells at high-end department stores like Saks, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.

Ball was the target of another lawsuit earlier this year. Markus Klinko, a photographer who entered into a long-term relationship with Ball's former fianc & #233;, filed suit against him in New York in January. He claimed extortion, tortuous interference with prospective business relations, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract, among other things.

Both Naggar and Klinko are represented by New York Attorney Anthony A. LoPresti of Meltzer LoPresti LLP.

Pier Group

There is more good news for hungry Malibu Pier residents and visitors.

California State Parks and Malibu Pier Partners recently announced a subcontract agreement with the Ruby Restaurant Group and Beachcomber Restaurants to open two restaurants and a bar.

This is the latest in a string of announcements that add up to a new Malibu on the horizon. Former Oracle chief Larry Ellison recently purchased the Casa Malibu Inn and David Geffen is planning to reopen the Malibu Beach Inn.

"This is the perfect time for us to get in there," said Doug Cavanaugh, chairman of Newport Beach-based Ruby Restaurant Group. "And I think this will make a vibrant environment for residents and visitors alike."

According to terms of the Pier agreement, the Beachcomber Bar will open this summer at the end of the Pier, followed this fall by the Beachcomber Restaurant, where Alice's once stood, and Ruby's Shake Shack, in a historical 1940s building at the end of the pier. These restaurants will share the pier with a surf museum, boat and fishing tours, gear rentals and a gift shop.

Face Time

Score one on the good side for celebs who have come under fire for complaining about being taxed on gift bag freebies they received.

Throughout the month of June, Beverly Hills skin care guru Sonya Dakar is raising money for CancerCare, a national nonprofit organization. To do so, Dakar is auctioning off celeb-autographed bottles of her signature sunscreen.

"It is a great way to get people involved, rather than just giving away free products like so many places do," Dakar said.

Dakar got celebrities who came in for some free pre-Oscars pampering at her recently expanded Beverly Hills salon to sign their names on individual tubes of the sunscreen. Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore, Jessica Biel and Fergie are among the signees. All money raised in the auction will support CancerCare's free counseling services, and Dakar will also donate 5 percent of proceeds from all "365 spf30" sun block sold throughout the summer.

Staff reporter Emily Bryson York can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235, or at eyork@labusinessjournal.com .

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