Business Owners, Small Franchisees, and Franchise Operators and breach of contract and fraud claims!

It is common place for there to be disputes between Franchisees and Franchisors. Often times, the dispute involves continued use of trademark licenses without paying royalties, claims of fraud involving financial information, and breach of contract or the franchise agreement.  However, there is some measure of protection from the unhappy or disappointed with their purchase of a franchise or a franchise store.  The franchisee often claims that the financial ;projections of the past performances of the franchise stores or operators.

There is often disagreement about what financial information was provided by the Franchisor and how much of it is mere puffery, opinion or an accurate reflection of the historical performance of different franchise stores.   However, in a recent Ruling the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District provided a finding that allowed Ace Hardware to defeat the claims asserted by Avon Hardware.  Avon Hardware asserted that Ace Hardware was liable for providing fraudulent or misleading sales and financial information to Avon Hardware.

Ace Hardware was found to have provided a variety of opinions and financial information to Avon Hardware, but was found to be not liable to Avon Hardware.  The primary reason for the First District Court’s dismissal of the common law or statutory fraud was the inability to overcome the language in the parties’ Franchise Agreement cautioning about the financial and sales data and the opinions contained therein.  The First District Court dismissal of the fraud claims were based on the Franchisees failure to plead and prove materiality and reasonable reliance on the Financial Sales and Data.

Thus, it is crucial for Franchisees to make sure that they verify sales projections and ensure that the Franchisor is required to provide audited financial and sales data.  This will help curtail the risk of being provided unnecessarily inflated financial information and sales data.  Moreover, it will help ensure that you do not have Buyer’s remorse.   Of course, if you have any concerns or questions, then please contact us at http://www.vrplaw.com

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