a likelihood of success on the merits of that claim.
Plaintiffs further contend that defendant violated NJFPA § 56:10-27 which prohibits a motor vehicle franchisor from selling motor vehicles to a consumer other than through a motor vehicle franchisee. Plaintiffs allege that defendant wrongfully competed with CJF by selling vehicles to CJF customers, stole CJF customers and interfered with CJF's profits. Plaintiffs have submitted no evidence to support that contention. Absent such proof, plaintiffs cannot establish a likelihood of success on the merits of that claim.
Plaintiffs allege that defendant is liable to CJF pursuant to NJFPA § 56:10-14 which requires motor vehicle franchisors to indemnify motor vehicle franchisees for claims and damages resulting from the franchisor's provision of defective vehicles. Plaintiffs argue that defendant is liable for damages that CJF incurred as a result of defendant's provision of defective parts and vehicles. However, plaintiffs have submitted no evidence to support their contention that the vehicles provided by defendant were defective, or to substantiate the damages incurred. Absent such proof, plaintiffs cannot establish a likelihood of success on the merits of that claim.
Plaintiffs have also failed to establish that CJF will be irreparably harmed absent injunctive relief. To satisfy the irreparable harm element, the moving party must make a clear showing of immediate, irreparable injury or a presently existing threat. Barclays, 938 F. Supp. at 307. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has consistently held that financial or economic injury does not constitute irreparable harm necessary to support an award of injunctive relief. See Acierno v. New Castle County, 40 F.3d 645, 653 (3d Cir. 1994) ("In general, to show irreparable harm a plaintiff must 'demonstrate potential harm which cannot be redressed by a legal or an equitable remedy following trial.' Economic loss does not constitute irreparable harm...."); Hohe v. Casey, 868 F.2d 69, 73 (3d Cir. 1989) ("Irreparable injury is suffered where monetary damages are difficult to ascertain or are inadequate."). Plaintiffs argue that "without an injunction, CJF, its employees and Robert Pezzolla, will lose their livelihood, will lose their investment, and will lose a valuable and marketable asset, worth in excess of one million dollars." Plaintiffs' Brief, at 6. Plaintiffs also allege that termination of the franchises will devalue CJF's good will. These alleged injuries are compensable with money damages and therefore do not constitute irreparable harm necessary to sustain an award of injunctive relief.
Plaintiffs have also failed to establish that an award of injunctive relief would not detrimentally impact defendant. Plaintiffs argue that defendant will not be harmed by an injunction because it was defendant who orchestrated plaintiffs' breaches of the various franchise terms. Other than advancing these allegations, plaintiffs do not offer any evidence or substantive legal argument in support of their contention, and thus cannot satisfy. the third prong of the analysis.
With regard to the public interest, plaintiffs correctly argue that the NJFPA evinces a strong public policy of protecting franchisees from the disparate bargaining power between franchisors and franchisees. Plaintiffs therefore argue that the public interest favors an award of injunctive relief. Absent any admissible evidence that defendant has violated the NJFPA, the Court declines to find that an award of injunctive relief would serve the public interest. Accordingly, given the insufficiency of plaintiffs' proofs, the Court holds that plaintiffs have not met their burden under NJFPA § 56:10-10 and are not entitled to preliminary injunctive relief.
The Arbitrability of Claims Covered by the NJFPA
All three franchise agreements require the parties to submit disputes arising out of or related to termination to binding arbitration as the sole and exclusive remedy. Plaintiffs have raised NJFPA § 56:10-7.3 as a bar to arbitration. Defendant does not address § 56:10-7.3, and in arguing for arbitration relies solely on the Federal Arbitration Act (hereinafter the "FAA"), 9 U.S.C. § 1.
As noted, the NJFPA applies to the parties' franchise agreements in the instant case. The NJFPA addresses the validity of arbitration clauses in franchise agreements and provides:
a. It shall be a violation of the "Franchise Practices Act" ...for a motor vehicle franchisee to agree to a term or condition in a franchise...as a condition to the offer, grant or renewal of the franchise...which: