People: John R. Skelton, Partner

Photo of John R. Skelton, Partner

John R. Skelton

Partner

Boston
Direct: (617) 946-4847
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John Skelton is a partner in the Litigation Department of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. He is an experienced trial lawyer having tried cases and appeared before a variety of state and federal courts and administrative agencies. In addition to a diverse commercial litigation and trial practice, Mr. Skelton has successfully defended numerous manufacturers and franchise clients in a variety of matters, including terminations, challenges to the establishment and relocation of dealerships and other outlets,  the enforcement of operating standards, and “mass” and class actions.

Mr. Skelton’s practice includes complex commercial and contract disputes; franchisor-franchisee relationships; distribution and trade regulation issues; creditor rights and bankruptcy litigation, complex product liability and premises liability cases. In the franchise and distribution area, he represents various automotive, restaurant and food service, hotel, and sleep products franchisors and manufacturers. He assists with terminations and non-renewal disputes, market representation issues, franchise system structuring, including establishing national networks and supply agreements. He also counsels on dealer and franchise ownership issues, including public and other joint ownership arrangements and due diligence process in connection with franchise system acquisition.

Mr. Skelton’s bankruptcy-related practice includes representing numerous franchisors and financial institutions in bankruptcy proceedings throughout the country.  His work includes evaluating post-filing operations, evaluating franchisor and lender rights and limitations, and developing strategies for dealing with financially distressed franchisee operations. He regularly assists franchisors in enforcing and effectuating pre- and post-petition terminations and protecting franchisor rights in asset sales and operations transfers.

John Skelton is a partner in the Litigation Department of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. He is an experienced trial lawyer having tried cases and appeared before a variety of state and federal courts and administrative agencies. In addition to a diverse commercial litigation and trial practice, Mr. Skelton has successfully defended numerous manufacturers and franchise clients in a variety of matters, including terminations, challenges to the establishment and relocation of dealerships and other outlets,  the enforcement of operating standards, and “mass” and class actions.

Mr. Skelton’s practice includes complex commercial and contract disputes; franchisor-franchisee relationships; distribution and trade regulation issues; creditor rights and bankruptcy litigation, complex product liability and premises liability cases. In the franchise and distribution area, he represents various automotive, restaurant and food service, hotel, and sleep products franchisors and manufacturers. He assists with terminations and non-renewal disputes, market representation issues, franchise system structuring, including establishing national networks and supply agreements. He also counsels on dealer and franchise ownership issues, including public and other joint ownership arrangements and due diligence process in connection with franchise system acquisition.

Mr. Skelton’s bankruptcy-related practice includes representing numerous franchisors and financial institutions in bankruptcy proceedings throughout the country.  His work includes evaluating post-filing operations, evaluating franchisor and lender rights and limitations, and developing strategies for dealing with financially distressed franchisee operations. He regularly assists franchisors in enforcing and effectuating pre- and post-petition terminations and protecting franchisor rights in asset sales and operations transfers.

Education

  • J.D., Western New England College School of Law (1988)
  • B.A., Saint Anselm College (1981)

Admissions

  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire

Courts

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court, District of New Hampshire

Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • American Bar Association Forum on Franchising
  • Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Boston Bar Association
  • New Hampshire Bar Association

Representative Engagements

  • In re Hackensack Chevrolet, - Ch. 11 Case No. 12-25459 U.S. Bkr. Ct. D.N.J., Order, Docket No. 108 (2012). Successfully opposed proposed sale of dealership in Ch. 11 bankruptcy based on, among other things, the dealer’s post-petition violation of its dealer agreement obligations and proposed sale terms which did not comply with the manufacturer’s contractual and statutory rights.
  • Flynn v. Bank of America Corp., et al., Middlesex Superior Court (Mass), No. 11-3000 (2012). Obtained a dismissal of a wrongful death asbestos suit brought by a former construction worker against Bank of America and 22 other “premises defendants” asserting claims based on the defendants’ ownership in the 1970s of buildings undergoing construction projects.
  • In re Ramp Chevrolet, Inc., Ch. 11 Case No. 09-77513, U.S. Bkr. Ct. E.D.N.Y., Docket No. 81 (2010). Successfully enforced the terms of GM’s pre-petition Wind-Down Agreement in a dealer’s bankruptcy proceeding.
  • Open Road BMW vs. BMW of North America, No. MFC 8557-03 (NJMVFC 2005) aff’d No. A-5438-0438 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Jan. 11, 2007). Successfully defended BMW’s proposed relocation of a competing dealer before the NJ Office of Administrative Law. ALJ’s decision affirmed by NJ appellate court.
  • SAR Holdings Inc., NH Superior Court (2007). Successfully represented Sarku Japan mall restaurant franchisor in dispute with franchisee concerning franchise agreement obligations and termination.
  • Suburban Cadillac/Pontiac Corporation v. General Motors Corporation, U.S.D.C., D. Conn., Case No. 3:06-cv-496 (RNC) (2006). Successfully defeated motion for preliminary injunction which sought to require approval of proposed sale and a relocation contrary to manufacturer’s network plan.
  • Chic Miller Chevrolet, Inc. v. General Motors, Corp., 352 F. Supp. 2d 251 (D. Conn. 2005). Obtained summary judgment that GM had good cause to terminate dealer for failure to maintain floor plan financing and to conduct customary operations.
  • Bahig F. Bishay v. American Isuzu Motors Inc., 404 F.3d 491 (1st Cir. 2005)
  • Obtained dismissal of post-bankruptcy wrongful termination suit brought by the 100-percent shareholder on the basis that the shareholder lacked standing.
  • Corkery v. General Motors Corporation, Middlesex Superior Court (Mass.), No. 03-3881 (2005). Obtained dismissal of statewide consumer protection class action alleging a defect in antifreeze.
  • Gallo Motor Center vs. Mazda Motor of America, 204 F. Supp. 2d 144 (D. Mass 2002), aff’d 347 F.3d 20 (1st Cir. 2003). In multi-day Massachusetts Federal Court trial, successfully defended establishment of dealership in an adjacent marketplace.
  • Restaurant holding company. On behalf of California based restaurant holding company, negotiated license and management services agreement in connection with the establishment of Asian restaurant in California casinos.
  • Manufacturing licensees. Represents various manufacturers of branded products in connection with enforcing rights under applicable license and distribution agreements.
  • Major captive motor vehicle finance company. In multi-day preliminary injunction hearing, successfully enforced termination of floor plan and related financing based on dealers default.
  • Major automobile manufacturers. Successfully represented various automakers in numerous bankruptcy proceedings in connection with proposed sales of dealerships, including upholding automaker’s contractual right of first refusal and defending automaker’s set off and recoupment rights.
  • Major automobile manufacturer. For a major automobile manufacturer successfully defended numerous protests before Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles challenging the proposed establishment and relocation of competing dealerships.

Presentations

  • Speaker, Association of Global Automakers’ Franchise Law Summit, Retail Warranty Reimbursement and Surcharge / Pricing Rights (March 2012)
  • Panelist, 11th Annual New England Business Litigation Conference (January 2012)
  • Panelist, 10th Annual New England Business Litigation Conference (January 2011)

Publications

Accolades

  • Best Lawyers, Franchise Law (2013–2015)
  • Best Lawyers, Franchise Lawyer of the Year, Boston (2014)
  • Super Lawyers, Litigation, Massachusetts (2010–2012)