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01-2-9570 Pellegrino Chrysler-Jeep Inc. v. Chrysler Grp. LLC, N.J. Super. App. Div. (per curiam) (26 pp.) Plaintiff, a car dealership in Woodbury Heights, appealed the final agency decision of the Motor Vehicle Franchise Committee denying its protest of a decision by defendant franchisor Chrysler Group LLC to establish a new Chrysler Jeep franchise in Sicklerville, to be owned by Charles Foulke Jr. and the Foulke Management Corp. The panel affirmed substantially for the reasons expressed by the ALJ and adopted by the committee. The panel added that plaintiff’s argument that the ALJ should have considered the Chrysler and Jeep dealerships separately was not raised below and therefore would not be considered. Moreover, the record clearly indicated that all of the parties, including plaintiff, assumed that the protest would be analyzed using a combined dealership. The panel rejected plaintiff’s claim that the decision failed to properly define “market area,” a necessary prerequisite to applying the factors in N.J.S.A. 56:10-23(a)(1) and (3). It also found no error in the ALJ’s decision to credit the testimony of defendant’s expert—that the existing franchisees’ facilities did not provide adequate representation of the line in the market area because of inadequate sales—over the contrary testimony of plaintiff’s expert, or in the ALJ’s finding that defendant had satisfied N.J.S.A. 56:10-23(a)(3), based on that testimony. The panel also rejected plaintiff’s claims that on the basis of Foulke’s history of bad customer service involving consumer complaints, arbitrations and legal actions against it at its other dealerships, Foulke would not materially enhance sales and service to customers. The panel concluded that defendant met its burdens under N.J.S.A. 56:10-23; the committee’s decision did not violate express or implied legislative policies; the record contained substantial evidence to support its findings; and in applying the legislative policies to the facts, the committee did not clearly err in reaching a conclusion that could have been reasonably made upon a showing of the relevant factors.

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