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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

Auto Manufacturer’s Charge-back of Rebates to Car Dealer Fails

June 23, 2019

AUTOBAHN IMPORTS, L.P., Doing Business as Land Rover of Fort Worth v. JAGUAR LAND ROVER NORTH AMERICA, L.L.C., 896 F.3d 340 (United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit) (July 13, 2018) Auto Manufacturer’s incentive and chargeback programs were shown to be an unenforceable and unreasonable sales standard that failed to legally justify the chargeback of the car franchisee by the franchisor of $317,000 of auto manufacturer’s holdbacks. After franchisee, a car dealer, successfully complained to Board of Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, asserting that franchisor’s charges of $317,000 back to franchisee for violation of rules of sales incentive program was an unreasonable sales standard, and during pendency of franchisor’s appeal of the Board’s order to the Texas Court of Appeals, franchisee brought action in state court against franchisor, seeking damages based on Board’s ruling, and claiming breach of contract and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). Franchisor removed to federal court, and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, John McBryde, District Judge, 2017 WL 2684055, granted franchisee’s summary judgment motion. Franchisor appealed, and in the interim the Texas Court of Appeals affirmed the Board’s order. The genesis of the lengthy dispute, spanning across many years, courts, and court systems, hinged on incentive programs offered by Jaguar. First, Jaguar offered an incentive known as the “Business Builder Program,” which provides dealers a percentage of the retail price of every vehicle sold if certain conditions are met. The relevant terms are set out in […]


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Tim Hortons Prevails on Termination Injunction Motion Against Restaurant Franchisee

June 19, 2019

Crux of Court’s Decision (Not including any subsequent appeals): Tim Hortons prevailed on its preliminary injunction motion terminating its restaurant franchisees. The franchisor was entitled to a preliminary injunction terminating the franchisees because the franchisees refused to pay fees owed to the franchisor. June 17, 2019 Name of Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida Short Case Name: Tim Hortons v. Tims Milner Short Factual Background and Parties: Plaintiff is the franchisor of the Tim Hortons brand and franchises restaurants throughout the United States. In 2016, Defendants and Plaintiff and its affiliate Tim Donuts U.S. Limited, Inc. (hereafter, “Plaintiff’s Affiliate”) entered into Franchise Agreements and Lease Agreements (together, the “Agreements”) that provided for Defendants’ ownership and operation of franchised Tim Hortons restaurants at seven locations in Michigan (the “Restaurants”). Each of the Franchise Agreements grants Defendants the right to operate one Tim Hortons restaurant in a specific location and to use the Tim Hortons trademarks. Defendants, however, maintain that they reached a verbal agreement with two employees of Plaintiff prior to execution of the Agreements, that they are only required to pay rent based on a flat percentage of gross sales, and are not required to pay as additional rent all real estate taxes and assessments, sales taxes, common area maintenance charges and assessments, certain utilities, and personal property taxes (together, the “Additional Rent Amounts”) On or about June 19, 2018, Defendants entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with Kava, for the sale of the Restaurants […]


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Court Refuses to Dismiss Dealer’s Claims that Teamsters Converted Dealer’s Territory

June 16, 2019

Crux of Court’s Decision (Not including any subsequent appeals): Dealer claimed that the Teamsters converted the Dealer’s Territory. The United States District Court for the District of Kansas refused to dismiss the Plaintiff Dealer’s claims that the Teamsters converted the dealer’s territory. The Court held that the Plaintiff sufficiently alleged in its Complaint that with full knowledge of his exclusive distribution rights, the Teamsters conspired with BIMBO, the franchisor/distributor, to have union drivers take over and abruptly terminate plaintiff’s routes. Facts as Alleged Underlying Court’s Decision (Not including any subsequent appeals): Bimbo Foods, Bimbo Bakeries and their predecessors (collectively, “BIMBO”) sold individuals and small businesses the exclusive right to sell and distribute certain bakery products throughout the United States, including the Greater Kansas City Area. Specifically, BIMBO’s business model for product distribution involved the formation and operation of an “Independent Operator (IO) Distribution Network” in which BIMBO sold independent distributors the exclusive right to purchase, resell and distribute its bakery products. Under the agreement, plaintiff’s exclusive distribution rights were to continue until such time as plaintiff voluntarily sold or transferred such rights. In 2011, BIMBO’s parent company, Mexico-based “Grupo Bimbo, S.A.B. de C.V.,” purchased Sara Lee Corporation’s North American fresh bakery business, which resulted in overlapping distribution routes with BIMBO’s existing IO distribution network. The Sara Lee distribution model relied on union employee drivers. In 2017, BIMBO negotiated for the drivers of Teamsters to take over the routes owned by plaintiff and other independent route owners in the Kansas City […]


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Domino’s Franchise Agreement Supports Employee’s Antitrust Conspiracy Claim

June 15, 2019

Domino’s Franchise Agreement Supports Employee’s Antitrust Conspiracy Claim Crux of Court’s Decision (Not including any subsequent appeals): Domino’s Franchise Agreement Supports Employee’s Antitrust Conspiracy Claim. The Court rejected Domino’s motion to dismiss concluding that a ‘no-hire’ provision in Domino’s franchise agreements supported the allegation that the franchisor had formed and participated in an antitrust conspiracy. In so concluding, the Court ruled that Blanton, the plaintiff employee of a Domino’s franchisee, had adequately pled that Domino’s used the franchise agreements to orchestrate a conspiracy among their franchisees to not compete for labor; Blanton says that the no-hire provision is evidence of that conspiracy and violates the Sherman Antitrust Act because it unreasonably restrains competition for Domino’s franchise employees and depresses employee wages, lessens employee benefits, and stifles employee mobility Name of Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division Short Case Name: Blanton v. Domino’s Crux of Dispute: Blanton says Defendants violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by orchestrating an employee no-hire agreement among their nationwide network of franchisees. Under the no-hire provision at issue—included in every Domino’s franchise agreement from at least January 2013 to April 2018—Domino’s franchisees agreed not to solicit or hire current employees of other Domino’s franchisees and affiliated entities. Blanton worked for a Domino’s franchise in Port Orange, Florida, from January 2017 until April or May of that year; he says he quit because his hours were repeatedly cut back. The Domino’s franchise that Blanton worked for is one of many in […]


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Auto Franchise Dealer Termination Claim Permitted to Proceed

June 9, 2019

Auto Franchise Dealer Termination Claim Permitted to Proceed By: Jeffrey M. Goldstein Judicial Update — Nissan N. Am., Inc. v. Tillman, No. 2018-CC-00462-SCT, 2019 Miss. LEXIS 220 (June 6, 2019) In a recent case, the Supreme Court of Mississippi ruled that in an auto franchise dealer termination dispute between an automobile dealer and an automobile manufacturer the dealership had timely filed a complaint under the Mississippi Dealership Act after the auto franchisee received the auto manufacturer’s letter providing notice that the dealership was being terminated. The MDA has two provisions applicable to the dispute: first, the MDA statute requires an auto manufacturer seeking to terminate a dealer agreement to provide a notice of termination to is vehicle dealer at least sixty days before the effective date of the termination; and, second, another statutory provision provides a dealer an opportunity to challenge a notice of termination by filing a verified complaint with the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission “within the sixty-day notice period.” In this case, because the parties’ franchise agreement required ninety days’ notice before a termination, the franchisor Nissan served the 90-day notice on November 23, 2016. In turn, the franchisee car dealership filed its complaint on February 17, 2017; although the dealership’s filing was within the 90 days period it was not within the initial 60 days period following service of the notice. The Motor Vehicles Board, in dismissing the franchisee’s complaint as untimely, framed the issue as: “does the statutory language ‘within the sixty-day notice period’ refer to the […]


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Recent Blogs on Franchise, Dealership and Antitrust Law

What Are the Benefits of Owning a Franchise?

May 31, 2019

Despite the legal and financial risks involved, buying a franchise can be a...


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Can (and Should) You Buy a Franchise for Less than $10,000?

May 29, 2019

Earlier this year, Entrepreneur.com published a slideshow titled, “5...


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How Can You Compare Franchise Opportunities?

May 24, 2019

When buying a franchise, it is important to gather as much information as...


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Q&A With Firm Founder Jeffrey M. Goldstein

May 22, 2019

Jeffrey M. Goldstein, founder of the Goldstein Law Firm, has been...


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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...

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