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The Franchise Memorandum

Posts from August 2020 - Issue 256.

A federal court in New York recently held that a supplier did not have a duty to disclose its business plans to its distribution partners before it changed its distribution system. Aaronson v. Kellogg Co., 2020 WL 2489087 (E.D.N.Y. May 14, 2020). Since 2000, Kellogg, a manufacturer of snack foods, had distributed its products through a Direct Store Delivery Distributor (DSDD) system, which relied on master distributors and sub-distributors for delivery and distribution of its products. In 2017, as part of a costsavings initiative, Kellogg changed its distribution model and ...

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A federal court granted a motion to transfer venue of a distributor’s claims from the Eastern District of Michigan to the Central District of California. Complete Med. Sales, Inc. v. Genoray Am., Inc., 2020 WL 4013306 (E.D. Mich. July 16, 2020). Complete Medical Services had entered into a distribution agreement with Genoray America to sell Genoray America’s manufactured medical diagnostic equipment. The parties also entered into a dealer policy which, among other things, specified that “any case of dispute or legal cases will follow the law of the state of California ...

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Posted in Antitrust

A federal court in New Jersey recently denied antitrust claims brought by a prospective baker and distributor of Dunkin’ Donuts products against an existing distributor. Central Jersey, CML v. Patel, 2020 WL 2840125 (D.N.J. May 31, 2020). Central Jersey, CML sought to open a baking and distribution facility for nearby Dunkin’ Donuts stores. In pursuit of its efforts, it obtained conditional approval for $18.9 million in New Jersey State tax credits. Also in pursuit of its efforts, it sought the financial backing of the defendants — members of another New Jersey-based ...

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Lathrop GPM continues to provide clients with alerts, articles, and other resources to help clients navigate important legal information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the following may be of particular interest to franchisors and distribution-based businesses:

These updates and resources from Lathrop ...

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The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an Indiana federal court’s decision strictly interpreting a distribution contract according to its terms and limiting the application of the duty of good faith and fair dealing implied into such contracts by the Indiana Commercial Code. Acheron Med. Supply, LLC v. Cook Med. Inc., 958 F.3d 637 (7th Cir. 2020). Cook, a manufacturer of medical devices and products, contracted with Acheron, a distributor experienced in selling to the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense, to serve as Cook’s distributor to those entities ...

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In another case from the Third Circuit, the appellate court affirmed a lower court’s decision to grant a franchisor’s motion for summary judgment. Audi of Am. v. Bronsberg & Hughes Pontiac, Inc., 2020 WL 2988888 (3d Cir. June 4, 2020). Audi of America and Wyoming Valley Motors (WVM) were parties to a 1997 franchise agreement that permitted WVM to operate a location-specific Audi dealership. In 2011, Audi unveiled a plan to convert all franchised locations to exclusive dealerships, with a six-year transition period. To comply with these new requirements, WVM purchased real ...

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The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a judgment dismissing claims brought by the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers against Mazda Motor of America under the New Jersey Franchise Practices Act. N.J. Coal. of Auto. Retailers, Inc. v. Mazda Motor of Am., Inc., 957 F.3d 390 (3d Cir. 2020). In the underlying action, the Coalition (a trade association whose members consist of franchised new car dealerships in New Jersey, including 16 Mazda dealers) alleged Mazda’s incentive program for its franchised dealers violates the New Jersey Franchise Practices Act in that it ...

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As previously reported in Issue 252 of The Franchise Memorandum, the DOJ’s Antitrust Division and the FTC’s Bureau of Competition recently issued a joint statement regarding review of business collaborations in the fight against COVID-19, announcing a plan to expedite the Business Review Process for potential antitrust risk. A review of the recent opinions issued under this new process, and lessons that can be learned from the enforcement approach in those reviews, can be found here.

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Posted in Choice of Law

A federal court in Washington held that a distributor failed to demonstrate that Wisconsin law, particularly the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law (WFDL), should apply to a distribution agreement that specified that the agreement is to be governed by the laws of the State of Washington. ACD Distrib., LLC v. Wizards of the Coast, LLC, 2020 WL 3266196 (W.D. Wash. June 17, 2020). ACD, located in Wisconsin, and Wizards of the Coast (WOTC), located in Washington, entered into a distribution agreement that granted ACD the right to distribute WOTC’s gaming products in Wisconsin. At the end of ...

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About this Publication

The Franchise Memorandum is a collection of postings on summaries of recent legal developments of interest to franchisors brought to you by Lathrop GPM LLP. 

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