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Inc. v. Pandora Jewelry, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division

August 29, 2017

MAURICE'S JEWELERS II, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
PANDORA JEWELRY, LLC and PANDORA FRANCHISING, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS

          FEDERICO A. MORE UNITE STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case arises from a franchise relationship. Plaintiff is bringing claims under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, the Florida Franchise Act, and common law claims of promissory estoppel and breach of contract. Defendants have moved to dismiss all the claims. The Court grants the motion to dismiss as to the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, but grants Plaintiff leave to amend its complaint to allege actual damages consistent with its response to the motion to dismiss. The Court finds the Plaintiff has sufficiently pled the promissory estoppel and breach of contract claims and denies the Defendant's motion to dismiss those two counts. Finally, the Court finds the parties' franchise agreement containing a Maryland choice of law provision precludes the Plaintiffs claim under the Florida Franchise Act, a claim that stems from the parties' franchise relationship, which is governed by their agreement.

         THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (D.E. 18), filed on February 3. 2017.

         THE COURT has considered the motion, the response, the pertinent portions of the record, and being otherwise fully advised in the premises, it is ADJUDGED that the motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The Court grants Plaintiff leave to file an Amended Complaint consistent with this Order by no later than September 13, 2017.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff, Maurice's Jewelers II, Inc., brings a four-count complaint against Defendants Pandora Jewelry, LLC and Pandora Franchising, LLC. In February 2011, the parties entered into a Master Purchase Authorization Agreement to allow Plaintiff to retail Pandora jewelry at a Dolphin Mall location in Miami, Florida. Plaintiffs principal, Andrew Koppel, had prior agreements with Defendants and a right of first refusal to open new Pandora franchise stores.

         The First Amended Complaint alleges there are different types of franchises:

Concept Store: A full-blown Pandora store, which carries all Pandora products, and branded storefront.
Shop-in-shop: A shop-in-shop is a clearly defined space within a store dedicated to Pandora products.
Gold Dealer: Gold dealers are multi-brand retailers with a strong Pandora profile.
Silver and White Dealers: Silver dealers have Pandora branded fittings in the store, but to a lesser extent than gold dealers. White dealers are multi-brand retailers carrying a limited assortment.

         The Master Purchase Authorization designates the Dolphin Mall location as a Silver dealer. The Master Purchase Authorization does not specify what products a Silver Dealer can retail, but it says it must carry at least four lines. The Master Purchase Authorization also states that an authorized retailer may elect to be a Gold, Silver, or White retailer at its discretion and may elect to change such retailer status at any time.

         In November 2013, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' employee Judy Viera sent Plaintiff a letter. Viera advised that although the Dolphin Mall location would be designated as a Silver dealer, Plaintiff would be permitted to carry all Pandora jewelry lines and products with the exception of watches at the Dolphin Mall location.

         In reliance on Viera's express assurance, Plaintiff alleges it proceeded to develop the Dolphin Mall location, by negotiating a lease for retail space, undertaking improvements, and purchasing fixtures for jewelry display. It incurred architectural costs of $14, 500 and the construction budget was between $400, 000-$500, 000. Pandora Jewelry reviewed the layout for the location, as it did for Plaintiffs other ...


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