Monthly Archives: January 2020

Short Salute to Richard Solomon

Jan 24, 2020 - Franchise Articles by |

Salute to Richard Solomon This is a short tribute to Richard Solomon, Esquire, who was a great franchise lawyer. Before his passing, Richard practiced in the franchise and antitrust law areas for almost fifty years. Although Richard did not limit his representation to only franchisees, he did vigorously represent many franchisees and dealers during his career. If nothing else, Richard’s views regarding the motives and abilities of participants in the franchise world were always honest and blunt. Many times, my views were in tune with his. Richard’s articles that had been published on his firm’s old website www.franchiseremedies.com no longer publicly exist. However, some of his writings are still found on www.Bluemaumau.org  Below, I’ve taken a few interesting excerpts from the prolific writings by Richard; right below each one, I’ve set forth my brief thoughts.   The Great Conflict of Protecting Markets or Franchisees Richard Solomon October 10th, 2012 …. When the time comes to read and sign a franchise agreement, if the executives read the contract at all – and many later testify that they didn’t read any of it – they find clauses that say that the franchisor never gave any financial performance information that was not contained in Item 19 of the FDD; that no one is authorized to provide financial performance information on the part of the franchisor; that no one did provide any financial performance information about this franchise; and that if anyone did provide financial performance information, the investing executive did not rely upon […]

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Ohio Federal Court Enforces Restrictive Covenant Against Franchisee & Rejects its FDD Violation Claims

Jan 18, 2020 - Franchise, Dealer & Antitrust Decisions in One Sentence by |

Ohio Federal Court Rejects Former Ice Cream Franchisee’s Arguments to Dissolve Preliminary Injunction and to Maintain Case for Violations of California Franchise Act In case in which franchisee (Schulenburg) defended (and lost) franchisor’s (Handel’s) bid to enforce post term covenant not to compete, franchisee’s counterclaim that franchisor had violated the CFIL by failing to provide an updated and revised FDD to franchisee was dismissed for franchisee’s failure to show that Handel’s CFIL violations caused any damages or articulate any way in which Handel’s violations damaged him, where the revised FDD differed solely with respect to a franchisee’s ability to obtain SBA financing. Handel’s Enters. v. Schulenburg, No. 4:18-CV-00508, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1185 (N.D. Ohio Jan. 6, 2020) Excerpts from Case Below: Handel’s Enters. v. Schulenburg United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division January 6, 2020, Decided; January 6, 2020, Filed CASE NO. 4:18-CV-00508; CASE NO. 4:18-CV-02094)   For [FRANCHISEE] David Scott Levaton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Franchise Legal Support, Westlake Village, CA; Rares M. Ghilezan, LEAD ATTORNEY, Global Legal Law Firm, Solana Beach, Solana Beach, CA. For [FRANCHISOR] Andrew Gregory Fiorella, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, Cleveland, OH; Elizabeth A. [*2]  Batts, Warren T. McClurg, II, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff – Cleveland, Cleveland, OH; Philip Jeng-Hung Wang, Stoel Rives, LLP, LEAD ATTORNEY, Three Embarcadero Ctr, San Francisco, CA. Judges: PAMELA A. BARKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE. MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER …. The parties have moved […]

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What Happens When a Franchisor Requires Franchisees to Install New Point-of-Sale Software?

Jan 17, 2020 - Blog by |

As we recently discussed, franchisors typically reserve broad rights to require franchisees to adopt system changes at their own expense. A case filed in federal district court last year confirms that franchisors who include the necessary protections in their franchise agreements can mandate expensive system changes – even if the changes are undesirable to franchisees. JDS Group v. Metal Supermarkets Franchising Am., Inc. In the case of JDS Group v. Metal Supermarkets Franchising Am., Inc. (WD New York June 20, 2017), JDS Group challenged its franchisor’s requirement to replace outdated point-of-sale (POS) software with a new application it intended to implement system-wide. Despite three years of development and a total cost in excess of $1 million, JDS Group alleged that the new POS software did not function as it should. It also submitted declarations from six other franchisees complaining of serious issues with the software. Although JDS Group’s franchise agreement gave Metal Supermarkets Franchising Am., Inc. the right to mandate use of specific POS software applications, it alleged that the mandate to adopt ineffective software constituted a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and violated the Washington Franchise Investment Protection Act (FIPA). Under FIPA, franchisors have an obligation to deal with their franchisees in good faith, and they cannot require franchisees to adopt system changes unless the changes are justified on business grounds. The franchisor countered that the vast majority of its franchisees, “had not been forced to close their stores,” as a result of […]

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Do I Need to Talk to a Franchise Lawyer Before I Buy a Franchise?

Jan 10, 2020 - Blog by |

Buying a franchise is an expensive proposition. From the initial franchise fee to the reserve capital you will need for your first six to twelve months of operations, as a prospective franchisee, every penny matters. With this in mind, do you really need to speak with a franchise lawyer before you buy? If you have already made up your mind, what is the benefit of having someone review the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and franchise agreement? Unfortunately, many prospective franchisees attempt to save money by foregoing a legal review, and their decision ends up costing them substantially in the years to come. 10 Reasons to Hire a Franchise Lawyer Before You Sign There are numerous reasons why all prospective franchisees should seek legal representation. Here are 10 examples: You Need to Make Sure You are Making an Informed Decision. Have you read and understood the entire FDD? What about the franchise agreement? Have you conducted adequate due diligence? Your Franchisor May be Providing Incomplete Information. Franchisors have sales funnels, and their goal is to get you to sign on the dotted line. Are you sure you have the complete story about your franchise opportunity? There Are Hidden Risks to Buying a Franchise. Is the franchisor at risk for bankruptcy or litigation? Could it lose the exclusive right to use its trademark? You Need to Know Your Obligations. Can you buy from any source you choose, or are you limited to approved products and approved suppliers? Your Franchisor Probably Has Broad […]

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Liberty Tax Franchisee’s Claim Against Bank Derailed by Pleading Defect

Jan 5, 2020 - Franchise, Dealer & Antitrust Decisions in One Sentence by |

Liberty Tax Franchisee’s Claim Against Bank Derailed by Pleading Defect In a recent Liberty Tax franchise case the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Louisville Division found that the franchisee’s tortious interference claim against Republic Bank & Trust Company (“Republic”) should be dismissed based on the franchisee’s lawyer’s failure to properly plead indemnity or contribution required to procedurally assert the claim in federal court; based on this ruling the court did not further consider the other logical problems with the franchisee’s alleged wrongdoing. JTH Tax, Inc. v. Freedom Tax, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:19-cv-00085-RGJ, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 218210 (W.D. Ky. Dec. 19, 2019)   ***************************************************** Counsel: For JTH Tax, Inc., doing business as Liberty Tax Service, Siempretax+, L.L.C., Plaintiffs: Denise M. Motta, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP – Louisville, Louisville, KY; Julia K. Whitelock, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP – Alexandria, Alexandria, VA; Patrick K. Burns, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP – DC, Washington, DC; Peter G. Siachos, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP – Florham Park, Florham Park, NJ. For the Franchisees Adisa Selimovic, Freedom Tax., Inc., ThirdParty Plaintiffs: Brett M. Buterick, LEAD ATTORNEY, Hill Wallack LLP, Princeton, NJ; Evan M. Goldman, LEAD ATTORNEY, A. Y. Strauss LLC, Roseland, NJ. JTH Tax, Inc. v. Freedom Tax, Inc. United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Louisville Division December 19, 2019, Filed Civil Action No. 3:19-cv-00085-RGJ Excerpts from the Decision: MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Plaintiffs JTH […]

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5 Hidden Risks of Buying a Franchise

Jan 3, 2020 - Blog by |

There are a number of obvious risks involved in buying a franchise: Your business could fail. You could lose your investment. You could end up in litigation with your franchisor. But, along with these risks, there are a number of hidden risks as well. As a prospective franchisee, here are five important legal considerations to keep in mind: 1. The Franchisor Could Be Facing Bankruptcy or Costly Litigation. When you looked at your franchisor’s Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), did you spend much time looking at Items 3 and 4? Probably not. These early Items are frequently overlooked, but they can provide critical insights into a franchisor’s solvency and financial stability. If your franchisor files for bankruptcy or incurs a substantial judgment in litigation, this could have devastating consequences for the franchise system as a whole. Unlikely as this may be, it is not a risk to be ignored completely. 2. The Franchisor’s Principal Trademark Could be in Jeopardy. If you are like most franchisees, one of your primary considerations in choosing a franchise was the recognizability of the franchisor’s brand. In legal terms, a brand is known as a “trademark,” and franchisors can lose their trademark rights under a variety of different circumstances. Ideally, your franchisor should have its principal trademarks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and it should be actively monitoring and enforcing its trademark rights. If your franchisor’s trademarks lose their exclusivity, you could lose the right to use them as well. 3. Your Territorial […]

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