Free Consultation

Washington DC Franchise Attorneys

The “Go-To Guy” For Hardball Franchise Litigation.

– Multi-Unit Franchisee Owner ($3 Million case)

Inner Workings of Franchise Law

The “Go-To Guy” For Hardball Franchise Litigation.

– Multi-Unit Franchisee Owner ($3 Million case)

Franchisee Lawyer Looking Out Window

The “Go-To Guy” For Hardball Franchise Litigation.

– Multi-Unit Franchisee Owner ($3 Million case)

Planning your new franchise

The “Go-To Guy” For Hardball Franchise Litigation.

– Multi-Unit Franchisee Owner ($3 Million case)

Businesswoman opening a franchise

The “Go-To Guy” For Hardball Franchise Litigation.

– Multi-Unit Franchisee Owner ($3 Million case)

Nationally Recognized Franchise, Antitrust, and Commercial Contracts Trial Lawyers

Esteemed Lawyers of America Logo

Esteemed Law Firm Complex Litigation

Global Law Experts Logo

Recommended Firm in Franchise Litigation

Who's Who Attorney Logo

Top Attorney USA – Litigation

Avvo Franchise Lawyer Symbol

Superior Attorney in Franchising

Avvo Franchise Lawyer Symbol

Superior Attorney in Antitrust

Finance Monthly Global Award Winner Logo

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Lead Counsel logo

Chosen Law Firm for Commercial Litigation

BBB of Washington DC

A+ Rated

Washington DC Chamber of Commerce

Verified Member

Lawyers of Distinction logo

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

ISSUU

Best Law Firm for Franchise Disputes in 2017

Law Awards Finanace Monthly

Franchise Law Firm of the Year - 2017

Top Franchise Litigator for Franchisees and Dealers

Top Franchise Litigator for Franchisees and Dealers

2017 Finance Monthly Award

2017 Finance Monthly Award

ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2018

Franchise Law Firm
of the Year
ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2018

ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2019

Franchise Law Firm
of the Year
ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2019

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Franchise Law Firm of the Year
Global Awards 2017

Global Law Experts

Franchise Law Firm
of the Year
in New York – 2019

Finance Monthly Law Awards - 2018

Finance Monthly Law Awards - 2018

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Franchise Law Firm
of the Year
Global Awards 2018

Testimonials

"Jeff, I am amazed that you were able to get the liquidated damages down that low, which allowed us to avoid bankruptcy. Until we retained you we had been dealing with hotel consultants who appeared to make little head-way in lowering the liquidated damages."

Multi-Unit Hotel Franchisee, Economy Segment
(value over $3 Million)

Get Legal Assistance from Franchise Lawyers Who Defend the Franchisee

The Goldstein Law Firm is a boutique national law firm that represents exclusively franchisees and dealers, not franchisors, suppliers or manufacturers. There are only a handful of franchisee lawyer specialists remaining in the country, as most have begun representing both franchisors and franchisees.

Franchise law is a multifaceted area of law that requires specialization. Any franchise attorney can tell you about a variety of cases where franchise agreements have gone south.

Here at Goldstein, our attorneys have as much as 30 years of experience handling all aspects of franchise litigation throughout the county.

We also specialize in franchise agreement assistance, bringing you the latest developments in franchise and distribution law. With the publishing of our Franchise Trends newsletter, we can help franchisees stay updated on developments concerning different legal aspects of franchising.

Dealing with the complexities and challenges of franchise law requires focus and specialization, which is why we represent dealers and franchisees exclusively. Unlike other firms, we at Goldstein are on the side of the franchisee. We can help you decipher the fine print of your franchise agreement and single out details your franchisor may not want you to know.

Without a knowledgeable and competent franchise consultant, you may be vulnerable to the pitfalls of franchise law. Simply walking away is not a viable solution if you’re looking to protect your assets and yourself from financially damaging consequences. For those who have already signed an agreement and are struggling with franchisor difficulties, our franchise law firm also provides legal assistance through its franchise attorneys.

Frequently Asked Questions on
Franchise Law:

Do franchisors have an obligation to their franchisees to act competently?

In theory, it’s possible that a franchise attorney could prove that a franchisor violated a franchise agreement by poorly managing the franchise system. Inadequately capitalizing the franchise system or poorly managing advertising campaigns could potentially violate a franchise agreement.

However, there are few if any recent case findings in which a franchisor has violated the terms of a franchise agreement. And if the franchise agreement hasn’t been violated, the courts almost never support a free-standing claim of negligence against the franchisor.

In other words, courts have held that franchisors do not owe a duty of competence to their franchisees.

It’s interesting to note, however, that many franchise law firms stay busy addressing the flip side of this issue–whether the franchisee has acted negligently in operating his or her franchise

Do franchisors have a duty to provide support to their franchisees?

On paper franchisors have this duty to some degree. Most franchise agreements explicitly set forth the respective duties owed by both the franchisors and franchisees.

However, the provisions outlining those duties owed by franchisors are few and normally too ambiguous to enforce. Most franchise agreements include contractual language stating to the effect that “the franchisor doesn’t guarantee the success of the franchisee.”

In practice, this means that franchisors really don’t have a compelling duty to provide support to their franchisees.

Also, most franchise agreements require franchisees to state in their agreements that their business venture involves risks, one of the most prominent being the business knowledge of the franchisee.

This results in a double standard: The franchisor has only a few ephemeral obligations to the franchisor. But in contrast, the “whereas” provisions in the introduction of most franchise agreements indicate that the franchisor is the undisputed guru in operating franchises in that particular industry.

What are some of the most common duties imposed on franchisors under franchise agreements?

It’s important to recognize that these duties are incredibly limited in scope. That said, they include, among other things: (1) locating appropriate sites for stores, (2) managerial assistance, (3) advertising assistance, (4) providing operating manuals, (5) training, and (6) identifying third party vendors from whom necessary products and services may be sourced.

Keep in mind, these areas are so broadly defined that even the best trial attorney would have difficulty in trying to identify – never mind proving – the contours of such duties unless he or she had extensive experience within a franchise law firm.

Are franchisors permitted to modify their requirements or system standards during the term of the franchise?

Believe it or not, they usually can make these changes. Almost all courts confronted with this question have readily permitted franchisors to change the obligations owed to their franchisees during the term of the franchise.

Franchisors gain this fluidity by lacing their franchise agreements with language that “the franchisor is permitted to modify or change the Operations Manual.” They can then “incorporate by reference” the Operations Manual into the franchise agreement.

The franchisor’s unbridled discretion is further bolstered by language in the franchise agreement that “the franchisor may modify the Operations Manual in its ‘sole discretion.'”

Everybody knows that people and businesses are subject to liability for “negligence.” Can't franchisors be held liable for negligence to their franchisees as well?

The short answer is no, not under the common law of almost every state.

When the franchisee is only claiming economic loss – which is almost always the case -the franchisee must seek its damages through a breach of contract action.

The franchisee would have to prove that the franchisor violated the franchise agreement. This is very difficult to prove, as the franchisor’s duties are usually few, ephemeral, and deliberately vague.

It’s possible a franchisor could be found liable if he or she failed to work in good faith and with fair dealing, but this is a long shot.

Note, however, that courts have found franchisors liable for negligence in certain
cases where personal injuries were involved.

Read more FAQs

Recent Litigation Issues on Franchising, Distribution and Antitrust Law

Petroleum Franchisor Required to Litigate Franchisee Dealer’s Wrongful Termination Claim

July 15, 2019

The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey rejected the petroleum franchisor’s request to dismiss on summary judgment the gasoline dealer franchisee’s case for wrongful termination because, according to the Court, the defendant bears the burden of proof in actions under the PMPA, and the bulk of defendant’s evidence was testimonial and thus subject to credibility determinations; material disputes existed regarding the following facts, going to the franchisor’s good faith in demanding changes to the renewal agreement: (1) the existence of a formula for calculating increases in rent at Defendant’s franchises — although Defendant contended such a policy exists, it cited oral deposition, in-court testimony, or affidavits, uncorroborated by any written policy; (2) whether the petroleum franchisor’s employees, Deakin and McGee, in fact warned plaintiff that rental values would increase when they initially met; (3) whether the franchisor’s employees, Deakin and McGee, suggested, during that initial meeting, that plaintiff franchisee could operate a truck stop at the property; (4) whether defendant failed to provide the franchisee dealer with training; whether the franchisee’s need for training was apparent; and whether the franchisor had a training program that was available; (5) whether the franchisor placed franchisee dealer’s account on COD status in retaliation for her request to operate the station as a commission; (6) whether the franchisor defendant had a motive not to renew the agreement, as shown by the strained relationship between Sathu, Deakin, and McGee; (7) defendant franchisor received an offer from Tim Horton’s to open a franchise at the location; and (8) the substantial increase in rent, which […]


Read More

Franchise Industry Statistics: Notable Numbers in Franchising

August 23, 2019

The franchise industry is constantly evolving. Statistics often change dramatically from year to year, with economic conditions heavily influencing the growth, retraction and overall stability of franchise systems in virtually all sectors. Franchisedirect.com recently published an infographic that provides an interesting overview of franchising’s history and some notable statistics on the industry. Here are some of the numbers that stood out to us the most: An Average of 300 Companies Start Franchising Each Year According to Franchisedirect.com, “[a]n average of 300 new brands start franchising each year.” This means that on more days than not there is a new opportunity for prospective franchisees to explore. Franchising saw its first boom in the late 1950s, and approximately 60 years later the industry is – at least by some standards – stronger than ever. There are More than 750,000 Active Franchised Outlets The infographic indicates that there were expected to be more than 750,000 franchised outlets by the end of 2018. It also notes that one in seven businesses is a franchise. Of these franchises, slightly over half (53 percent) are owned by multi-unit franchisees. Just under half of all franchisees own a single outlet. More Than 80 Percent of Franchises are Local or Regional Brands 50 percent of franchises are classified as “local” brands, while 34 percent are classified as “regional” brands. This means that just 16 percent are the national and global brands that most people picture when they hear the word, “franchise.” While this statistic may be surprising to […]


Read More

When Can Franchisees Pursue Antitrust Claims Against Their Franchisors?

August 22, 2019

If you are like most dissatisfied franchisees, you want to get out of the system, and you are prepared to do so by all legal means available. However, you also probably know that your rights under your franchise agreement are limited. In fact, if you have reviewed the “Termination” section of your agreement, you may have noticed that you don’t actually have any termination rights at all (in contrast to your franchisor, which probably has multiple options for forcing you out of the franchise system). Fortunately, an antitrust attorney who is familiar with the franchise relationship may be able to help. What is Antitrust Law? Antitrust law prohibits private parties (i.e. franchisors, vendors and other third parties) from entering into agreements that constitute unreasonable restraints on trade. Antitrust law has its origins in consumer protection, with the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 (the “Sherman Act”) outlawing business arrangements (which, at the time, used a specific form of trust) that created monopolies and restricted market competition. The Sherman Act remains relevant today, and various other laws at the state and federal levels prevent anti-competitive conduct and establish other antitrust protections as well. How is Antitrust Law Relevant to Franchisees? So, how is antitrust law relevant to franchisees? In the franchise context, the Sherman Act and other state and federal antitrust laws prohibit franchisors from entering into contracts that either (i) force franchisees to pay more for products and services than market forces would dictate, or (ii) restrict franchisees’ ability to offer […]


Read More

Digital Marketing for Franchisees: What Restrictions Apply?

August 16, 2019

From Instagram to Google Maps, in today’s world, getting found and interacting with customers online are among the most-effective ways to build a successful business. The International Franchise Association (IFA) recently published the results of a poll in which franchisees were asked to list their most-effective channels for generating customer leads, and four of the top six involved digital marketing. Social media came in second (behind “referrals”) at 55.26 percent, followed by search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising and content marketing. Radio and television tied for second-to-last (before billboards) at just 2.63 percent. But, as a franchisee, your ability to market online is limited. As with all other aspects of your business, you can only say and do what is permitted by the terms of your franchise agreement and the franchisor’s operations manual. If you build an online presence in a non-compliant manner, your franchisor may force you to make changes (which could confuse your followers), it may force you to transfer your accounts and it may even declare you in default under your franchise agreement. What Can (and Can’t) Franchisees Do Online? So, as a franchisee, how can you market your business online? While individual franchisors’ rules and restrictions vary, some examples of potential restrictions include: 1. Approval of Advertising Materials Traditionally, franchisors have typically required franchisees to obtain pre-approval of any advertising materials they intend to use. But, as a franchisee, you cannot wait days (or weeks) to find out if you have permission to post a photo […]


Read More

How Can You Find Your “Perfect Match” in Franchising?

July 31, 2019

Recently, Forbes.com published an article titled, The Franchise Dating Game: Finding Your Perfect Franchise Match. The article analogizes the process of choosing a franchise to that of finding “your perfect life partner,” and it discusses six steps that prospective franchisees can take to narrow down their options until they find the “right” franchise opportunity. We have discussed these steps before in various articles covering the topic of due diligence. But, it is interesting to examine them in the “dating game” context; and, as due diligence is one of the most-important steps involved in buying a franchise, we thought we would share our thoughts on these tips for finding “The One”: 1. “Know Your Personal Interests, Strengths and Goals” This is a critical factor in choosing a franchise opportunity. Even if a franchise appears to have significant profit potential generally, if you are not interested in the nature of the business, and if you are not passionate about the product or service you would have to sell, then it is probably not the franchise for you. 2. “Know Your Figures” Different types of franchises require different levels of financial investment; and, even among competing franchised brands, some franchisors demand higher initial franchise fees, royalties, and marketing fund contributions than others. While these higher costs may (or may not) be justified, overextending yourself financially can limit your ability to survive the initial months of operation when your franchise isn’t generating a profit. 3. “Get Online” These days, there is no shortage of […]


Read More

Halal Guys Franchisee Fails to Obtain Preliminary Injunction from Illinois Court to Prevent Termination

July 31, 2019

A few days ago, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied a plaintiff franchisee’s preliminary injunction request, thereby dooming the ‘Halal Guys’ franchisee’s legal attempt to remain in business after it was terminated by its franchisor. As with many other restaurant franchise terminations, the franchisee in this case was repeatedly defaulted for health and other operational food violations. At the end of the day, the federal court was not persuaded by the franchisee attorney’s focus on an email in which one of the franchisor owners had told the quality inspector to ‘go hard’ on the franchisee when conducting one of the last inspections. As the Court noted, the franchisee had failed to establish its right to the emergency injunction because it failed to individually specifically address, and rebut, under oath, each of the alleged food violations upon which the termination was based. The Court’s analysis of the denial of the emergency relief was exceedingly traditional; however, the decision did appear to contain a small analytical inconsistency when it found both that the plaintiff franchisee had an ‘adequate remedy at law’ [through a damages award in a later trial down the line] and that the franchise brand might not suffer if the Court had chosen to allow the franchisee to continue operating as a branded restaurant. H Guys Ltd. Liab. Co. v. Halal Guys Franchise, Inc., No. 19-cv-4974, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124052 (N.D. Ill. July 25, 2019) Please Click on the Link Below to Read […]


Read More

Recent Blogs on Franchise, Dealership and Antitrust Law

Franchise Industry Statistics: Notable Numbers in Franchising

Aug 23, 2019

The franchise industry is constantly evolving. Statistics often change...


Read More

When Can Franchisees Pursue Antitrust Claims Against Their Franchisors?

Aug 22, 2019

If you are like most dissatisfied franchisees, you want to get out of the...


Read More

Digital Marketing for Franchisees: What Restrictions Apply?

Aug 16, 2019

From Instagram to Google Maps, in today’s world, getting found and...


Read More

How Can You Find Your “Perfect Match” in Franchising?

Jul 31, 2019

Recently, Forbes.com published an article titled, The Franchise Dating...


Read More
Solutions franchise blog image

Franchisee Progress Doomed by Archaic Economic Thinking

April 5, 2019

Problem: As discussed in more detail below, although it is possible to achieve some measure of...

Read More

Reformist Thoughts on Franchise, Dealership, Distribution and Antitrust Law

April 11, 2018

2017 Best Franchise Litigators -- USA By Jeffrey M. Goldstein  Over my 30 years of...

Read More

Franchise Lawyer, Jeff Goldstein, of Goldstein Law Firm

Choosing a Franchise Law Firm to Represent You

My Franchise Agreement is Expiring, Now What? (Part I of II)

Contact Us

Goldstein Law Firm, PLLC

1629 K St. NW, Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20006

Phone: 202-293-3947
Fax: 202-315-2514

Free Consultation

Free Consultation

Esteemed Lawyers of America Logo

Esteemed Law Firm Complex Litigation

Global Law Experts Logo

Recommended Firm in Franchise Litigation

Who's Who Attorney Logo

Top Attorney USA – Litigation

Avvo Franchise Lawyer Symbol

Superior Attorney in Franchising

Avvo Franchise Lawyer Symbol

Superior Attorney in Antitrust

Finance Monthly Global Award Winner Logo

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Lead Counsel logo

Chosen Law Firm for Commercial Litigation

BBB of Washington DC

A+ Rated

Washington DC Chamber of Commerce

Verified Member

Lawyers of Distinction logo

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

ISSUU

Best Law Firm for Franchise Disputes in 2017

Law Awards Finanace Monthly

Franchise Law Firm of the Year - 2017

Top Franchise Litigator for Franchisees and Dealers

Top Franchise Litigator for Franchisees and Dealers

2017 Finance Monthly Award

2017 Finance Monthly Award

ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2018

Franchise Law Firm
of the Year
ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2018

ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2019

Franchise Law Firm
of the Year
ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2019

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Franchise Law Firm of the Year
Global Awards 2017

Global Law Experts

Franchise Law Firm
of the Year
in New York – 2019

Finance Monthly Law Awards - 2018

Finance Monthly Law Awards - 2018

Franchise Law Firm of the Year

Franchise Law Firm
of the Year
Global Awards 2018