Alex and Ani has been given the go-ahead to sue BJ’s Wholesale Club and a former distributor, in a case that claims its products were sold at the discount retailer without its permission.
In a July 18 opinion that labeled the case a “bewildering ballad of bungled bangle banditry,” Rhode Island federal Judge William E. Smith let stand the bulk of the charm manufacturer’s complaint against the discount club, as well as Elite Level Consulting, Travis Brody, J. Jonathan Weiss, Luxury Business Jets, Roxy, Genesis Sales Corp., and JJ & M Corp. Two counts, which sought damage under Massachusetts consumer protection laws, were dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.
In an amended complaint filed Feb. 7, positive-energy charm manufacturer Alex and Ani alleges it made a deal with Elite Level Consulting to sell 26,000 of its bangles with a retail value of $1 million at a horse show in Palm Beach, Fla., and a film festival in Austin, Texas. The bangles were all sold at discounted prices, with a stipulation that they not be resold, the company said.
Instead, they ended up at Massachusetts and Rhode Island BJ’s Wholesale Clubs, which has previously been rebuffed in attempts to carry the brand, according to the complaint. (BJ’s “sells products which may or may not be American-made, spiritually uplifting and so forth, but are certainly sold at discounted prices,” the judge noted.) Other pieces ended up with Alphashark, an online company, and on eBay.
In a response, Brody admits that he did resell the Alex and Ani pieces, rather than place them at either the horse show or film festival. But he argued that any provision that restricts the sale of goods is “legally void and unenforceable.”
BJ’s was targeted with one count of conversion—generally defined as the unlawful taking of someone else’s property—because it refused to return the merchandise, the suit said. The retailer asked for that count be dismissed, as it was a “good faith purchaser” of the items. But the judge ruled that the issue could be settled only with further discovery.
The case allowed the judge to get unusually creative in the wording of his opinion, at one point noting that the defendants stack their legal arguments “like so many Alex and Ani bracelets upon the outstretched arm of a trendy woman.”
BJ’s could not be reached for comment at press time.