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Washington DC Franchise Attorneys

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

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

Lawyer Distinctions award
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

Lawyer International

Lawyer International
Legal 100
2018

Lawyer International

Lawyer International
Legal 100
2019

ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2019

US (New York)
Franchise Lawyer
of the Year
ACQ5 GLOBAL AWARDS 2019, JEFF GOLDSTEIN, GOLDSTEIN LAW FIRM, PLLC

ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2019

US (New York)
Franchise Law Firm
of the Year
ACQ5 GLOBAL AWARDS 2019, GOLDSTEIN LAW FIRM, PLLC

Lawyers of Distinction logo

2019 Power 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
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 […]


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Washington Supreme Court Restricts Franchisors’ Pricing of Products and Services to only those that are “Fair and Reasonable” Prices

September 21, 2019

The Washington Supreme Court has recently ruled Franchisors cannot exceed ‘fair and reasonable prices’ in selling products and services to their franchisees. Specifically, the Court held that under that state’s Franchise Relationship Act that it is an unfair or deceptive act or practice for any person to “sell, rent, or offer to sell to a franchisee any product or service for more than a fair and reasonable price.”  The Washington Supreme Court proceeded to define prolific components of a definition of “fair and reasonable price” for such products. The Washington Court explained: The plain language and the legislative history of the FIPA make clear that a broad understanding of the market and market forces must inform a fact finder determining whether prices are fair and reasonable under the FIPA. A fact finder must take into consideration market forces writ broadly. This includes what the district court relied on—the price at which the franchisor acquired the products or services—but reaches beyond. The prices of competitor franchisors should be taken into account, including whether the prices of all franchisors are the same. So, too, should the statements of profit margin made by the franchisor. Other relevant factors include the franchisor’s charges to other franchisees for the same or similar products or services; what other similarly situated franchisors charge similarly situated franchisees for the same or similar products or services; business and industry practices; the price the franchisor pays for the products or services; and the price at which the franchisee could obtain […]


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Goldstein Law Firm, PLLC Receives Innovative Complex Commercial Litigation Law Firm Award – USA 2019

September 16, 2019

Lawyers Worldwide Awards Magazine GOLDSTEIN LAW FIRM, PLLC   The Lawyers Worldwide Awards Innovative Lawyers 2019 celebrates the leading, most prolific firms, that have continually displayed a high degree of quality, tenacity and ability to punch above their weight within their area of specialization. The Goldstein Law Firm, PLLC, led by founding partner Jeffrey M. Goldstein, is a nationally recognized litigation boutique that specializes in complex commercial litigation focusing on antitrust, contracts, franchise, dealership, distribution, RICO and unfair trade practices disputes.   The Goldstein Law Firm, PLLC for 2019 was awarded in the category of: Complex Commercial Litigation Law Firm of the Year – USA   The Lawyers Worldwide Award Magazine Innovative Lawyers 2019, is created via a thorough, global poll of the readership, which asks the voting readers to put forward their nominations for those Advisors that are, in their opinion ‘Innovative Lawyers’ within their chosen area of specialization.


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Franchisor Cannot Require Arbitration of Dispute With New Franchisee Where New Franchisee Failed to Sign a New Franchise Agreement as Part of Franchise Purchase From Prior Franchisee

September 15, 2019

The United States Circuit Court for the Tenth Circuit ruled that a restaurant franchisor, Dickey’s Barbecue, was not entitled to require arbitration of disputes between it and a new franchisee, who had purchased the restaurant from a prior franchisee, because the new franchisee had never executed a franchise agreement, and because Utah law required that an arbitration agreement be contained in a written document setting forth the scope of the dispute to be arbitrated; without a signed franchise agreement between the new franchisee after its purchase of the franchise from a prior franchisee, the franchisor could not demonstrate—through recourse either to the text of the asset purchase agreement or evidence presented to bolster its “course of dealing” theory—that the new franchisee ever assumed the written obligations of the prior franchisee, including specifically the agreement to arbitrate disputes. Campbell Invs., LLC v. Dickey’s Barbecue Rests., Inc., No. 18-4055, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 26980 (10th Cir. Sep. 6, 2019) Click on Link Below to Read Full Decision Campbell Invs._ LLC v. Dickey_s Barbecue Rests._ Inc._


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Auto Manufacturer Franchisor Falls Prey to Amended Colorado Car Dealer Act’s New Expanded Relevant Market Definition

September 12, 2019

  In a Colorado federal court case interpreting the Amended Colorado Car Dealer Act in which the car dealer agreement “expressly reserved” for the defendant car manufacturer “the unrestricted right to grant others the right to sell Kia products,” and noted also that plaintiffs are “not being granted an exclusive right to sell Kia products in any specified geographic area,” and stated that defendant “may add new dealers to, relocate dealers into or remove dealers from” the geographic area “as permitted by applicable law”, and where the plaintiff franchisee dealers alleged that defendant’s plan to establish the proposed dealership violated Colo. Rev. Stat. § 44-20-125 (“CDA”), a statute which creates a private right of action for “an existing motor vehicle dealer adversely affected by” a distributor’s plan to reopen, relocate, or establish a “same line-make motor vehicle dealer,” and where the CDA requires any manufacturer seeking to “establish an additional motor vehicle dealer, reopen a previously existing motor vehicle dealer, or authorize an existing motor vehicle dealer to relocate” to provide at least sixty days notice to all of its existing dealers “within whose relevant market area the new, reopened, or relocated dealer would be located”, and where the CDA was amended to define the “relevant market area” as the greater of “the geographic area of responsibility defined in the franchise agreement of an existing dealer” and “the geographic area within a radius of ten miles of any existing dealer of the same line-make of vehicle as the proposed additional […]


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5 Common Examples of Franchisor Antitrust Violations

August 30, 2019

Antitrust is among the most-confusing areas of the law, even for attorneys. But, as a franchisee, understanding the antitrust principles that apply to the franchise relationship is important, as franchisor antitrust violations are common, and they can have severe negative ramifications for individual franchisees. So, as a franchisee, when is it time to speak with an antitrust attorney? Here are five of the most-common antitrust violations in franchising: Common Antitrust Violation #1: Unlawful Customer Restrictions Protected and “exclusive” territories are common in franchising; and, while dividing geographic territories amongst franchisees is generally permissible, there are other types of customer restrictions that can violate federal and state antitrust laws. When examining customer restrictions for potential antitrust issues, the franchisor’s intent and the practical effect of a restriction are both important factors. With regard to franchisor intent, if the purpose of a restriction is to limit customers’ options (i.e. by prohibiting franchisees from serving customers outside of their respective territories), then this is more likely to tend toward an antitrust violation. For example, if a franchisor wants to prevent franchisees from competing with one another on price (in order to drive up royalties and marketing fund contributions), this could be an unlawful practice. On the other hand, if a franchisor simply restricts franchisees from actively marketing outside of their respective territories (but does not restrict the customers they can serve), this is an industry-standard practice that generally does not raise antitrust implications. This is a complicated and nuanced area, and franchisees who […]


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Recent Blogs on Franchise, Dealership and Antitrust Law

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...

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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...

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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

Lawyer International

Lawyer International
Legal 100
2018

Lawyer International

Lawyer International
Legal 100
2019

ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2019

US (New York)
Franchise Lawyer
of the Year
ACQ5 GLOBAL AWARDS 2019, JEFF GOLDSTEIN, GOLDSTEIN LAW FIRM, PLLC

ACQ5 LAW AWARDS 2019

US (New York)
Franchise Law Firm
of the Year
ACQ5 GLOBAL AWARDS 2019, GOLDSTEIN LAW FIRM, PLLC

Lawyers of Distinction logo

2019 Power 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
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