Tagged: Franchise Law

Jersey City Restriction on Chain Stores and Restaurants Could be Unconstitutional

Jersey City, New Jersey’s second largest city, recently passed an ordinance that restricts “formula businesses” in certain neighborhoods. The ordinance defines a “formula business” as one which is “contractually obligated” to maintain certain “standardized characteristics” such as merchandise, menu items, design, signage, and trademarks. In other words, Jersey City is seeking to limit chain restaurants and stores from opening in certain city neighborhoods.

United States District Court for the District of New Jersey Finds Franchisee’s Felony Conviction is Not a Valid Basis for Immediate Termination of a Franchise Agreement Under the New Jersey Franchise Practices Act When the Crime is Not “Directly Related to the Business Conducted Pursuant to the Franchise”

All franchisors and distributors should be aware of a June 27, 2012, decision in which the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey reaffirmed the New Jersey Franchise Practices Act’s (“FPA”) strong policy of protecting the rights of franchisees and limiting a franchisor’s ability to terminate a franchise agreement without first providing 60 days written notice — even in the face of a franchisee’s felony conviction — so long as that conviction is not “directly related to the business conducted pursuant to the Franchise.” In International House of Pancakes, LLC, et al. v. Parsippany Pancake House Inc., Civil Action No. 12-03307 (WJM) (MF), the District Court denied International House of Pancakes’ (“IHOP”) request for a preliminary injunction enforcing IHOP’s termination of Defendant Parsippany Pancake House, Inc.’s (“Pancake House”) franchise and prohibiting Pancake House from continued use of IHOP’s logos and other marks. IHOP terminated the franchise, effective immediately, after learning that Pancake House’s president and majority owner pleaded guilty to the crime of endangering the welfare of a minor, and admitted during his plea hearing to having engaged in sexual conduct with a minor, a felony. IHOP ended Pancake House’s franchise based upon language in the franchise agreement providing for immediate termination if the franchisee is convicted a felony. Pancake House countered that the...

Third Circuit Rules that Car Manufacturers’ Wholesale Price Increases Designed to Recover Warranty Costs to Dealers is Consistent with New Jersey Franchise Protection Act

The Third Circuit’s to-be-published opinion in Liberty Lincoln-Mercury, Inc. v. Ford Motor Company, confirms that the New Jersey Franchise Protection Act, N.J.S.A. § 56:10-1 to § 56:10-31, permits motor vehicle franchisors to use permissible cost-recovery systems to recoup the increased cost of reimbursing New Jersey motor vehicle dealers under the Act, but also clarifies that such a cost-recovery system must allow individual dealers to retain the ability to mitigate the increased costs imposed.

New Jersey Chancery Division Determines Insurance Agents are Not Franchises for Purposes of the New Jersey Franchise Practices Act

New Jersey insurers and insurance agents must be aware that agents are not entitled to the broad protections of the New Jersey Franchise Practices Act (“NJFPA”) pursuant to a recent Chancery Division decision in DeLuca v. Allstate Insurance Co., in which the Court held that insurance agents do not meet the definition of a “franchise.” The Court thus concluded that Allstate Insurance Company was free to terminate its agents pursuant to the terms of their respective agency agreements, which permitted termination with or without cause.