Majors

Sterling, Alex and Ani Lawsuit Settled

MajorsFeb 27, 2019

Sterling, Alex and Ani Lawsuit Settled

The case has been closed after more than a year of litigation and back-and-forth breach of contract claims.

Akron, Ohio—The lawsuits between Signet-owned Sterling Jewelers Inc. and Alex and Ani LLC has ended with a fizzle instead of a bang after about 14 months of litigation.

The case was dismissed with prejudice by Judge Sara Lioi of the Northern District of Ohio federal court, meaning it can’t be tried again.

No specific settlement details were made public, though it is known that each party agreed to pay its own legal fees.

The legal drama dates back to August 2015 when Sterling Jewelers agreed to sell Alex and Ani’s bangles in 100 Jared stores in a test-run trial.

Per the agreement, the bangles could not be marked down or sold at outlets.

However, Sterling claimed these restrictions cut into sales, leaving the retailer with as much as $6 million in unsold Alex and Ani inventory.

In July 2016, the parties reached an agreement for Alex and Ani to buy back about $3 million in merchandise.

Sterling sent back around $900,000 in inventory, which Alex and Ani accepted, but had not paid for more than a year later.

Sterling terminated the agreement in August 2016 and discounted Alex and Ani’s merchandise to try to recoup some of its losses, despite several cease-and-desist letters from the jewelry brand.

In November 2017, Sterling filed suit against Alex and Ani in the Court of Common Pleas for Summit County, Ohio, the county where Signet is headquartered, accusing it of breach of contract. The case was moved to federal court in Ohio the following month at Alex and Ani’s request.

The Sterling suit asked for about $2.6 million in damages, plus interest and attorneys’ fees.

Alex and Ani fired back with a counterclaim against Sterling parent company Signet Jewelers Ltd., arguing that Sterling breached the contract by selling through “unauthorized channels.”

Alex and Ani’s counterclaim states that it became aware on Aug. 26, 2016 that Sterling was selling 459 of its bangle styles on Jared.com at a discount, but had not terminated the agreement until Aug. 30, 2016.

“It is apparent from the timing that Sterling terminated the agreements in an attempt to avoid the consequences of breach of the agreements,” the countersuit stated.

The attorneys representing Alex and Ani did not respond to a request for comment regarding the settlement.

Signet Vice President of Corporate Affairs David Bouffard said: “The matter was resolved and settled to the parties’ mutual satisfaction.”

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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