Eric J. Walz

Senior Counsel

Phone: 617.723.7700
Fax: 617.227.0313
Email:

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Eric J. Walz

Overview

Eric is a seasoned and savvy Senior Counsel with years of experience representing clients in complex franchise and automotive dealer class actions and other disputes, contract negotiations and terminations, and matters affecting franchise and dealer relationships.

In the traditional franchise context, Eric has litigated multi-franchise and class action lawsuits alleging employee misclassification, wrongful termination of franchise and area development agreements, state franchise law violations, fraud, breach of contract, and conspiracy, among others. Eric understands when and how to challenge and defend franchise agreement arbitration provisions and forum selection clauses, which is often critical in franchise disputes.

Representing clients in the automotive industry, Eric has earned favorable rulings from the circuit and appellate courts in warranty rate reimbursement disputes, created the legal structure and contractual framework necessary for an automotive dealer to partner with its manufacturer on a new vehicle subscription service pilot program, litigated the validity of incentive programs under state dealer laws, and advised clients on the establishment of new dealerships and protest rights.

In addition to his franchise and automotive industry experience, Eric represents clients in the manufacturing and distribution, retail, technology, healthcare, life sciences, financial and fitness industries. By listening to his counsel, Eric’s clients have benefited from his ability to resolve disputes without expensive and time-consuming litigation. He recently represented a Boston retailer in opposing the licensing of a cannabis operation at an adjoining property and convinced a construction company threatening an unfair business practices claim against a Boston designer to drop the matter prior to filing a lawsuit. If unable to resolve a dispute pre-suit, Eric makes the most of his early opportunities in the courtroom. In the last year, he secured the complete dismissal of two cases—one in state court, and the other in federal court—and won the partial dismissal of a second federal case, significantly limiting his client’s exposure and drastically reducing litigation costs.

Eric’s clients trust him to resolve more than their business disputes. He has been called upon to discretely investigate whistleblower allegations of criminal wrongdoing, develop compliance and ethics programs, and train staff and executives on international anti-corruption laws. He has performed international compliance and investigation work in more than a dozen countries spanning four continents and has defended companies and individuals against prosecutions by state, federal and regulatory agencies for illegal gambling, mail and wire fraud, FCPA violations, healthcare and securities fraud, making false statements, insider trading, campaign finance violations, and civil and criminal RICO.

Experience

  • Represented a franchise client in a system-threatening class action lawsuit, including first chairing an arbitration, managing the Sixth Circuit offensive and defensive strategy, and supporting the Ninth Circuit strategy and defense.
  • Represented an automotive client in a lawsuit alleging fraud, coercion, state dealer law violations, and otherwise challenging an OEM’s nationwide incentive program.
  • Represented a fitness franchisor facing multimillion-dollar claims of wrongful termination of an area developer agreement, multiple franchise agreements and conspiracy. Successfully resolved the dispute for a fraction of the demand. As part of the settlement, convinced the franchisor’s insurer to cover a much greater portion of the settlement than the client was seeking, saving the client hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.
  • First chaired litigation against a global manufacturer of space and military defense systems in a case involving claims of RICO violations, wire fraud, securities fraud and whistleblower retaliation.
  • Represented a franchise client in federal court in a lawsuit alleging fraud, breach of contract and various state franchise law violations. Successfully argued motion to dismiss and resolved the dispute on favorable terms.
  • Defended a global automobile manufacturer on appeal in an action to uphold a denial of warranty rate increase request by a dealership using a novel theory of recovery.
  • Structured and drafted a contractual framework for a new partnership between an automotive dealer and an OEM while remaining in compliance with state dealer statutes and avoiding dealer protests and other litigation.
  • Represented a New England franchise client facing a wrongful death action following an accident involving a delivery driver; settled case on favorable terms.
  • Successfully challenged the licensing of a cannabis retailer seeking to establish a location in a property adjacent to a client’s property.
  • Secured a complete dismissal of a complaint against a local nonprofit facing wrongful termination and retaliation claims.
  • Won the complete dismissal of an action against an Israeli company facing defamation claims for online services.
  • Performed anti-corruption internal investigations for a global technology company in Italy and Romania, a global manufacturer in Mexico, and a global financial institution in the United Kingdom, and oversaw anti-corruption due diligence on third-party vendors in India, Germany, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Mauritius and other locations for a global healthcare company.
  • Defended clients in investigations and prosecutions by the DOJ and the SEC for violations of the FCPA, the False Claims Act, financial crimes, wire and mail fraud, and false statements.

Areas Of Practice


Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts
  • US Court of Appeals, First Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • US District Court, District of Massachusetts

Education

  • Harvard Business School Executive Education via Boston Chamber of Commerce Boston Future Leader’s Program
  • Suffolk University Law School, JD
    Honors: Summa Cum Laude; articles editor of the Suffolk University Law Review
  • Princeton University, BA

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