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Woodbridge Center Property LLC v. AMP Food Holdings, LLC

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 20, 2013

WOODBRIDGE CENTER PROPERTY LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
AMP FOOD HOLDINGS, LLC, PRABODH MENON, MAYA MENON, ERIK PAPADOPOLO, CATHLIN PAPADOPOLO, and BAHRAM ASGARIAN, Defendants. AMP FOOD HOLDINGS, LLC, PRABODH MENON, MAYA MENON, ERIC PAPADOPOLO, CATHLIN PAPADOPOLO, and BAHRAM ASGARIAN, Third-Party Plaintiffs/ Respondents,
v.
PANCHERO'S FRANCHISE CORPORATION and RODNEY L. ANDERSON, Third-Party Defendants/ Appellants.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued January 14, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division Middlesex County, Docket No. L-1112-12.

Justin W. Oravetz argued the cause for appellants Panchero's Franchise Corporation and Rodney L. Anderson (Archer & Greiner, attorneys; Mr. Oravetz and Benjamin D. Morgan, on the brief).

Mitchell J. Kassoff argued the cause for respondents AMP Food Holdings, LLC, Prabodh Menon, Maya Menon, Erik Papadopolo, Cathlin Papadopolo and Bahram Asgarian.

Dinah E. Hendon argued the cause for plaintiff Woodbridge Center Property, LLC (Lasser Hochman, L.L.C., attorneys; Ms. Hendon, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Graves and Espinosa.

PER CURIAM

Third-party defendants Panchero's Franchise Corporation and Rodney L. Anderson, president of the corporation, (collectively Panchero's) appeal from a June 29, 2012 order denying their motion to compel arbitration and an August 10, 2012 order denying their motion for reconsideration. Because we conclude that the franchise agreement between Panchero's and third-party plaintiff AMP Food Holdings, LLC (AMP) contained an enforceable, unambiguous arbitration provision, we reverse.

On October 10, 2010, AMP entered into a franchise agreement with Panchero's to establish a Panchero's Mexican Grill restaurant. The individual owners of AMP, Prabodh Menon, Erik Papadopolo, and Bahram Asgarian, signed a guaranty and assumption of obligations, stipulating AMP would "punctually pay and perform each and every undertaking, agreement and covenant set forth in the Agreement" and that each owner "shall be personally bound by, and personally liable for the breach of each and every provision in the Agreement."

The cover page of the franchise agreement stated: "THIS CONTRACT IS SUBJECT TO ARBITRATION, " and the arbitration clause contained within the franchise agreement specified:

Franchisor and Franchisee agree that all controversies, disputes, or claims between Franchisor and its affiliates, and their respective owners, officers, directors, agents, and/or employees, and Franchisee (and Franchisee's owners, guarantors, affiliates, and/or employees) arising out of or related to:
(1) this Agreement or any other agreement between Franchisee ...

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