PHILADELPHIA – A breach of contract lawsuit filed against convenience store chain 7-Eleven by one of its longtime franchisees, who claimed the company “made life miserable for him," has been dismissed for lack of specificity related to the charge and with leave to file an amended complaint.
Plaintiff Azmi Takiedine initially filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania on Oct. 11, 2017 versus 7-Eleven, Inc., which is regionally based in Mount Laurel, N.J. and a principal place of business of Dallas, Texas.
Takiedine owns and operates two 7-Eleven stores in Pennsylvania, and has been a franchisee of the convenience store company for 44 years. However, he alleges that his longtime tenure has denied 7-Eleven the ability to obtain new franchise fees for their stores, which typically would have changed hands in ownership several times during such a time period.
“A terminated franchise is a windfall to the defendant. Plaintiff has invested resources and over 44 years of time, effort and good will into his stores, and they greater community they are located in,” Takiedine argued.
“Defendant’s plan to drive out plaintiff as a franchisee of 7-Eleven, Inc. is part of a wider scheme to drive out several other franchisees from their franchises with 7-Eleven, Inc. and ‘take back’ several 7- Eleven stores in the greater Philadelphia market.”
Takiedine continues that 7-Eleven forced him to buy products and services from its preferred, expensive vendors by threatening to change the franchisee agreements, in order to increase its share of the profits from his stores.
Furthermore, Takiedine says a 7-Eleven representative told a worker at one of his stores that his days as a franchisee were “numbered,” and told another worker that Takiedine “would soon be concluding his tenure as a 7-Eleven franchisee,” putting him in fear of his stores being terminated.
“By imposing unreasonable charges that have entirely diminished plaintiff's profits, issuing false notices of a breach of plaintiff's obligation under the agreements, and stating to plaintiff’s employees that plaintiff’s days with 7-Eleven, Inc. ‘are numbered,’ defendant has taken actions, in violation of Pennsylvania law, to constructively terminate plaintiff’s franchises under a concerted and deliberate attempt to drive out certain franchisees from 7-Eleven, Inc. in the greater Philadelphia market.”
U.S. District Court Judge Gene E.K. Pratter said that Takiedine’s charge of constructive termination required that 7-Eleven closed his stores, but this did not take place. Due to Takiedine’s stores never being closed, Pratter dismissed that count of the complaint.
“Because constructive termination requires that there be actual termination, Mr. Takiedine has no claim for constructive termination so long as his stores remain open,” Pratter said.
In addition, Takiedine did not include his franchisee agreements with the complaint – therefore, Pratter ruled it was not possible to learn which contractual terms were breached.
“The count for breach of contract may survive, but because Mr. Takiedine never attached his franchise agreements to his complaint, the Court cannot determine precisely which contractual terms were allegedly breached. Therefore, the Court dismisses the entire complaint,” Pratter stated.
Per Pratter’s ruling, Takiedine has been granted leave to file an amended complaint no later than July 16, where he may then theoretically attach the franchisee agreements in the next iteration of his suit.
For counts of breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing and breach of contract, the plaintiff is seeking damages for those charges, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs, and such further relief as the Court deems equitable and just.
The plaintiff is represented by Ahmed M. Soliman of Soliman & Associates, in Chery Hill, N.J.
The defendant is represented by Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy in Philadelphia and Christian C. Burden of Quarles & Brady, of Tampa, Fla.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:17-cv-04518
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at email@example.com