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1/16/04

Read these stories and more in

Friday's Edition

of the Kenosha News

BY ERIK BROOKS KENOSHA NEWS

Wives of four former Snap-on Inc. dealers have filed lawsuits against the Kenosha-based toolmaker claiming that "false, fraudulent and misleading" business practices by the company led to the collapse of their husbands' franchises.

Snap-on, however, criticized the claims as being "without merit" and took specific issue with the attorney who is representing the women that filed their lawsuits this week in the Superior Court of New Jersey.

Attorney Gerald Marks is representing dozens of former Snap-on dealers in either lawsuits against the company or arbitration cases, but said the two recent filings involving dealers' wives are believed to be one of the first cases of a spouse not directly involved in a franchise suing a franchiser for damages.

"Mr. Marks represents a very small number of former dealers," according to a written statement from Snap-on released this week. "It is unfortunate that Mr. Marks is once again targeting our company in what we believe is nothing more than an attempt to drum up business for himself."

Responded Marks: "It's always good to shoot the messenger when you want to hide the bad news."

Snap-on manufactures automotive repair tools that are purchased by company dealers and resold to mechanics door-to-door through dealer vans.

Marks said the wives were victims of "franchise fraud," as franchisees run by their husbands folded, and they lost their initial investments of more than $150,000 and now owe Snap-on more than $715,000 combined.

Three of the women joined to file one lawsuit claiming that Snap-on knowingly assigned tool selling routes to their husbands that had an inadequate numbers of customers to remain profitable.

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