Former Petland Inc. franchisees are suing the Chillicothe chain for fraud, alleging the stores are doomed from the start â€“ and the company knows it.
Columbus-based Luper Neidenthal & Logan and two New York firms filed a suit on behalf of two lead plaintiffs â€“ franchisees in Nashville, Tenn., whose stores have gone out of business. The suit is seeking class-action status on behalf of all franchisees since November 1993, and asks for relief of about $20 million. It also seeks cancellation of franchise agreements, said Greg Melick, a Luper Neidenthal attorney representing the plaintiffs.
Melick estimates the average investment per franchisee totals up to $250,000, and the firms have been in contact with more than 40 franchisees.
The lead plaintiffs claim Petland fraudulently induced them to start a pet store when it knew, or should have known, the shops couldnâ€™t succeed. A major allegation from franchisees, Melick said, is that pets supplied to the stores through Petlandâ€™s vendors were sick or dying.
Melick compared the franchiseesâ€™ problem to a restaurateur opening a new business and sending dozens of people to the hospital for food poisoning in its first weekend. More.