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Watertown’s Renzi Bros. dismissed from dispute between Alteri and Jreck

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A state Supreme Court judge has released Renzi Bros. Inc. from a legal dispute between Alteri Bakery Inc. and Jreck Subs Inc. over the question of whether Jreck should be required to buy its sandwich rolls from Alteri.

In a decision filed Monday at the Jefferson County clerk’s office, Judge Hugh A. Gilbert granted Renzi Bros.’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing all claims against the Watertown food distributor.

Seaway Valley Capital Corp., parent company of Alteri, filed suit in December 2010 against Jreck, claiming Jreck broke a 2002 contract with a Jreck affiliate, Pastry Product Producers LLC, that called for Alteri to supply all Jreck rolls in the state for 30 years. Jreck countered that a 2004 “cross-licensing” agreement allowed Jreck to use other vendors, but Seaway Valley Capital argued that agreement was never disclosed when it acquired Pastry Product Producers in 2008.

Renzi Bros. was drawn into the dispute in February 2011 when Seaway Valley Capital filed an amended complaint alleging that Renzi Bros. interfered with its contract with Jreck by advising Jreck franchisees to order products from a businesses other than Alteri, specifically from New York Bakery, to whom Jreck had moved much of its roll business, and Renzi Bros. It was claimed that Jreck and Renzi “threatened repercussions” for franchisees if they bought rolls from someone other than New York Bakery or Renzi Bros.

In answering documents, Renzi Bros. denied any knowledge of the terms of the disputed contract between Alteri and Jreck or whether its was properly terminated by Jreck or breached by Alteri. Renzi Bros. further denied that any of its employees ever approached any Jreck franchisees to encourage them to break the contract with Alteri.

In October 2011, Renzi Bros. asked, among other things, that Seaway Valley Capital provide proof that someone within its organization encouraged franchisees to buy rolls from a business other than Alteri or that it otherwise interfered with Alteri’s contractual rights. When that information was not forthcoming, Judge Gilbert ruled in May that Seaway Valley Capital would be precluded from introducing any evidence at trial that claimed to show Renzi Bros. interfered with Alteri’s contract with Jreck.

Absent that information, Renzi Bros. contended that it would be “impossible” for Seaway Valley Capital to establish that Renzi Bros. induced anyone to breach the contract between Alteri and Jreck, a position with which Judge Gilbert agreed. According to court documents, Seaway Valley Capital did not oppose Renzi Bros.’s motion to have the case against it dismissed. The corporation’s action continues against Jreck.

The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency and the Watertown Local Development Corp. have the joined the action as plaintiffs, having provided loans to Alteri based on the understanding that it had long-term contracts with Jreck to provide rolls.

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