ROANOKE, VA. (CN) – Ben & Jerry’s Franchising duped a woman into opening a store by offering a defective business model that falsified earnings claims; violated contract by providing ice cream to rivals; and took money from her store, ostensibly to promote charities, but actually to wage political campaigns that drove people away from the franchise, Shannon Sherman claims in Federal Court. Sherman said she opened her Simple Man ice cream shop because her terminally ill son enjoyed Ben & Jerry’s ice cream so much.
Sherman claims Ben & Jerry’s offers inaccurate financial information to potential franchisees in its Uniform Franchise Offering Circular and on its Web site for franchisees. She claims “Item 19 of the Disclosure Document” on its “extranet” Web site was inaccurate, and “that Ben & Jerry’s knowingly distorted the earnings information given in the UFOC to make the system look more attractive to potential buyers and that it concealed the correct data. In reality, they were hiding the truth to have innocent purchasers, such as Mrs. Sherman, put their life savings into buying a store that was destined to fail.”
She says she lost more than $85,000. She demands punitive damages for fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation and other charges and violations of business laws. She is represented by Jeffrey Goldstein of Leesburg, Va.