Author: Jeffrey M. Goldstein

Franchise and Dealer Renewals: Every Minute Counts in Texas to Classicalists 

Jan 18, 2021 - Reformist Thoughts by |

Franchise and Dealer Renewals: Every Minute Counts in Texas to Classicalists By: Jeffrey M. Goldstein In Pizza Inn, Inc. v. Clairday, 979 F.3d 1064 (5th Cir. 2020), a recent decision from the United States Circuit Court for the Fifth Circuit a franchisee entered into an area development agreement with a franchisor, which included an option to renew. However, the franchisee failed timely to notify the franchisor that he wished to renew and submitted a late notice of renewal. In turn, the franchisor did not honor the tardy notice of renewal. After the district court ruled in favor of the franchisee at trial, the Circuit Court reversed finding that the district court had erred in finding that the notice of renewal was sufficiently timely under the doctrine of equitable intervention. In denying the franchisee recovery, the Court of Appeal held that the equitable intervention doctrine was not applicable to support a recovery for the franchisee because the franchisee did not suffer an unconscionable hardship from the franchisor’s failure to honor the tardy notice of renewal since a partial forfeiture of the purchase price, a forfeiture of future profits, and the shuttering of a franchise store were not sufficient hardships warranting strict enforcement of the renewal deadline. The Pizza Inn case is very troubling for several reasons. First, it appears to be a shot over the bow by Texas courts (both state and federal) aimed at neoclassical contracts theory; however, the neoclassical contracts boat left the dock safely in 1950 with the […]

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Tim Hortons Franchisee Association Hits Brick Wall on Case Against Franchisor

Dec 23, 2020 - Franchise, Dealer & Antitrust Decisions in One Sentence by |

Tim Hortons Franchisee Association Hits Brick Wall on Case Against Franchisor In a scathing rejection of a complex case filed by an international franchise association, the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida refused to recognize that the franchisee association of Tim Hortons members had associational standing to sue for myriad alleged unfair acts and practices including supply price-gouging, franchisee equity-stripping, and misuse of the franchise advertising fund; similarly, the court rejected the viability of those same claims on substantive grounds as well. Great White N. Franchisee Ass’n-USA v. Tim Hortons USA, Inc., No. 20-cv-20878, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 239160 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 18, 2020)   Excerpts of the Case: Franchisee Counsel:   For Great White North Franchisee Association-USA, Inc., Plaintiff: Natalie Marlena Restivo, LEAD ATTORNEY, Adam Gruder Wasch, Wasch Raines, LLP, Boca Raton, FL; Gerald A. Marks, PRO HAC VICE, Marks & Klein, LLP, Red Bank, NJ. Franchisor Counsel: For Tim Hortons USA, Inc., Defendant: Michael D Joblove, LEAD ATTORNEY, Aaron Seth Blynn, Genovese Joblove & Battista, Miami, FL; Adam Acosta, John Mark Gidley, PRO HAC VICE, White & Case LLP, Washington, DC. For Jose E. Cil, Defendant: Aaron Seth Blynn, Genovese Joblove & Battista, Miami, FL. Judges: BETH BLOOM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE. Opinion by: BETH BLOOM Opinion BACKGROUND This case involves an allegedly illegal and predatory business scheme implemented by THUSA’s holding company to convert the Tim Hortons franchise system into a supply chain business resulting in large profits at the expense of Plaintiff’s franchisee members. Tim Hortons […]

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Burger King Franchisee Hoisted on Own Petard

Dec 22, 2020 - Judge’s Distribution and Franchise Rulings from the Front Lines by |

Burger King Franchisee Hoisted on Own Petard Burger King Corp. v. Berry, No. 1:20-cv-21801-UU, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 233700 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 9, 2020) A recent franchise decision by the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida appears to have wrecked a Burger King franchisee’s chances of prevailing in the litigation. Although the franchisee attempted to skewer Burger King by slashing wildly with a general covenant of good faith argument, under the Court’s ruling, the Burger King franchisee ended up hoisted on its own petard given that the franchise agreement explicitly accorded to the franchisor complete discretion regarding assistance and training.   Excerpts of Case   Burger King Corp. v. Berry United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida December 9, 2020, Decided; December 10, 2020, Entered on Docket Case No. 1:20-cv-21801-UU Counsel:   For FRANCHISEE Darryl D. Berry, Capital Restaurant Group, LLC, a Georgia limited liability company, Defendants, Counter Claimants: Robert Mitchell Einhorn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michael Daniel Braunstein, Zarco Einhorn Salkowski & Brito, P.A., Miami, FL. For FRANCHISOR Burger King Corporation, Plaintiff, Counter Defendant: Jessica Serell Erenbaum, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michael D Joblove, Genovese Joblove & Battista, Miami, FL. Judges: URSULA UNGARO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE. Opinion by: URSULA UNGARO Opinion   ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS SECOND AMENDED COUNTERCLAIM … ANALYSIS A. The Second Amended Counterclaim Fails to Comply with this Court’s Order, D.E. 37. The Second Amended Counterclaim is full of allegations that the Court ordered Counterclaimants to omit from their Second Amended Counterclaim. For […]

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Question: How Do Franchise Exclusive Territories Work? Answer: They Usually Do Not

Dec 21, 2020 - Franchise Articles by |

Question: How Do Franchise Exclusive Territories Work? Answer: They Usually Do Not By: Jeffrey M. Goldstein jgoldstein@goldlawgroup.com 202-293-3947 In a recent franchise case before the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, the trial Court granted in part and denied in part the Defendant Franchisor’s motion to dismiss the Franchisee’s encroachment claims. Plaintiff Zubair Kazi was a president of numerous companies that owned and operated franchises across the United States, including a KFC location in Pueblo, Colorado, KFC of Pueblo (Kazi and KFC of Pueblo together the “franchisee”). Defendant, KFC US, LLC (“KFC” or the “franchisor”) was a national franchisor of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. The case arose when KFC licensed another KFC restaurant (“outlet”) near the franchisee’s then-current location. The parties executed an initial Franchise Agreement (“Franchise Agreement”) allowing the franchisee to prepare fried chicken and other food recipes and to market them with certain trademarks and service marks, and thereafter a renewal Franchise Agreement on June 1, 2017. The Court identified the following provisions in the Franchise Agreement as “relevant”: 3.6 Except as provided in subsection 3.8, during the License Term KFC shall not use or license others to use any of the trademarks licensed hereunder in connection with the sale of any food products at any location within a radius of one and one-half miles of the Outlet, unless [exceptions not relevant here]. Right to Apply for New Franchised Outlets. Before permitting the establishment of any new franchised outlet (defined below) at a location closer […]

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Florida Federal Court Rejects Franchise Lawyers’ Fee Request as ‘Too High’

Oct 29, 2020 - Franchise, Dealer & Antitrust Decisions in One Sentence by |

FLORIDA FEDERAL COURT REJECTS FRANCHISE LAWYERS’ FEE REQUEST AS ‘TOO HIGH’ In a recent franchise case in Florida, a federal district court refused to grant the fees requested by the franchisee lawyers’ in their fee petition because the franchisee lawyers’ fees were “too high” when viewed against the rates charged by other lawyers in the area who are experienced in complex litigation; in slashing the lawyers’ requested fees by almost 40% across the board, the court stated: “The case at bar was not complex, and Defendant Childress won on the basis of default [with the other side not putting up a defense].” Drone Nerds Franchising Llc v. Childress United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida October 7, 2020, Decided; October 7, 2020, Entered on Docket Case No. 19-CV-61153-RUIZ/STRAUSS Excerpts of the Case: REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION THIS CAUSE came before me upon Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff’s [(“Defendant Childress’”)] Motion for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs (DE 83) (the “Motion”). The Motion has been referred to me to take all action as required by law pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and the Magistrate Judge Rules of the Local Rules of the Southern District of Florida. (DE 84). I have reviewed the Motion, the record in this case and am otherwise duly advised. For the [*3]  reasons discussed herein, I RECOMMEND that the Motion (DE 83), be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Specifically, I recommend that attorneys’ fees be awarded in the amount of $20,947.50 and that no costs be awarded. DISCUSSION […]

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Edible Arrangements Franchisee Forced to Litigate Fraud Claims in Arbitration

Sep 9, 2020 - Judge’s Distribution and Franchise Rulings from the Front Lines by |

Edible Arrangements Franchisee Forced to Litigate Fraud Claims in Arbitration Fruit Creations, LLC v. Edible Arrangements, LLC, No. 3:20-cv-00479, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156779 (M.D. Tenn. Aug. 27, 2020) In a recent case in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, the Court rejected as ‘meritless’ the Edible Arrangements franchisee’s argument that the franchisee’s claims were not subject to arbitration under the Edible Arrangements franchise agreement stating that “the plaintiff’s claim that a reading of the “Enforcement” section of the contract as a whole leads to a conclusion that the parties did not intend to arbitrate their dispute borders on nonsense.” Excerpts of the Case: Fruit Creations, LLC v. Edible Arrangements, LLC United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division August 27, 2020, Filed Case No. 3:20-cv-00479   Reporter 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156779 * FRUIT CREATIONS, LLC, FRUIT CREATIONS OF CLARKSVILLE, LLC, FRUIT CREATIONS OF NASHVILLE, LLC, TONY CONSTANT, and KIMBERLY CONSTANT, Plaintiffs, v. EDIBLE ARRANGEMENTS, LLC, NETSOLACE, INC., EDIBLE CONNECT, LLC, BERRY DIRECT, LLC, EDIBLE BRANDS, LLC, INCREDIBLE EDIBLES, LLC, and TARIQ FARID, Defendants. Counsel:  [*1] For Fruit Creations, LLC, Fruit Creations of Clarksville, LLC, Fruit Creations of Nashville, LLC, Tony Constant, Kimberly Constant, Plaintiffs: Colby Conforti, Robert F. Salkowski, Robert Zarco, Zarco Einhorn Salkowski & Brito, P.A., Miami, FL; James R. Tomkins, Smith & Tomkins, One Lakeview Place, Nashville, TN. For Edible Arrangements, LLC, Netsolace, Inc., Edible Connect, LLC, Berry Direct, LLC, Edible Brands, LLC, Incredible Edibles, LLC, Tariq Farid, Defendants: Kevin […]

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7-Eleven Prevails on Franchisee’s Vendor and Inventory and Good Faith Breach Claims

Sep 9, 2020 - Judge’s Distribution and Franchise Rulings from the Front Lines by |

7-Eleven Prevails on Franchisee’s Vendor and Inventory and Good Faith Breach Claims By: Jeffrey M. Goldstein Takiedine v. 7-Eleven, Inc., No. 17-4518, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161103 (E.D. Pa. Sep. 2, 2020) In a recent case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, a former 7-Eleven franchisee Takiedine filed a complaint against 7-Eleven alleging breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and breach of contract. The Court dismissed the franchisee’s complaint, but with leave to amend. In his amended complaint, Takiedine pleaded claims for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of contract, unconscionability, unjust enrichment, impracticability, conversion, and fraud. In turn, 7-Eleven moved to dismiss the amended complaint and filed a separate motion to stay the arbitrable claims, arguing that certain of Takiedine’s breach of contract claims concerning vendor negotiating practices were required to be arbitrated under the terms of the Franchise Agreements. The Court granted 7-Eleven’s motion to stay the arbitrable claims, ruling that Takiedine’s vendor negotiating practices claims under Section 15 of the Franchise Agreements, including those concerning 7-Eleven’s proprietary products, fell within the scope of the Franchise Agreements’ arbitration provision. The Court also at that time dismissed three of the franchisee’s breach of contract claims concerning (1) fair and accurate merchandise audits under Section 14 of the Franchise Agreements; (2) failure to market and advertise under Section 22; and (3) recommended vendors under Section 15(g). Three of  Takiedine’s breach of contract claims survived relating to […]

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Liberty Tax Franchisee Represented by GLF Wins in Post-Term Covenant Case in Federal Court

Jul 21, 2020 - Judge’s Distribution and Franchise Rulings from the Front Lines by |

Liberty Tax Loses Preliminary Injunction to Former Liberty Franchisee Regarding Enforcement of Post-Term Restriction Liberty Tax Franchisee Represented by GLF Wins in Post-Term Covenant Case in Federal Court ——————————————————— UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA JTH TAX LLP, doing business as Liberty Tax Service , Plaintiff, v. MARK KELLY, Defendant. CASE NO. C20-5484RJB ORDER ON MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION JULY 6, 2020 THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction (Dkt. 14). The Court is familiar with the file and all documents filed in support of and in opposition to the motion. DISCUSSION This is a business dispute. The facts are sharply in dispute. It is inappropriate, and not justified by the record, for the Court to preliminarily takes a side now for the following reasons: The Court is unable to determine that Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits; It does not appear that Plaintiff is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief. If Plaintiff’s position ultimately prevails, monetary damages should adequately recompense Plaintiff. Nothing in the parties’ contract trumps this conclusion; The balance of equities is as hazy as is Plaintiff’s likelihood of success; A preliminary injunction or restraining order is not shown to be in the public interest. Particularly, third party taxpayers’ interests have not been successfully shown to be at risk under the status quo. For these reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order […]

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Virtual Healthcare Franchisee’s Fraud Claims Based on Franchisor’s Financials Must be Reasserted

Jul 20, 2020 - Franchise, Dealer & Antitrust Decisions in One Sentence by |

Virtual Healthcare Franchisee’s Fraud Claims Based on Franchisor’s Financials Must be Reasserted  A virtual healthcare franchisee’s common law fraud claim that the franchisor of a cloud-based marketplace for telehealth services fraudulently induced the franchisee to invest in the franchise and in so doing also violated the anti-fraud provision of the New York Franchise Sales Act (NYFSA) based on statements allegedly made at a Franchise Expo regarding future performance were mere puffery under Missouri law, and to the extent other similar claims were based on the franchisor’s misrepresentations made during the negotiations and execution of the parties’ franchise agreement (including specific representations about future revenue and expense ‘projections’), the allegations were insufficient to sufficiently identify which individual defendants made which statements; further, issues of fact remained as to whether the franchisee’s alleged reliance on the representations made by the defendants was reasonable.  CHARLES FABIUS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS V. MEDINEXO USA, LLC, ET AL., DEFENDANTS, U.S. District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division. No. 4:19CV2526 JCH. Dated April 3, 2020  ———————————————–  Excerpts from case:   DISCUSSION  Fraud In The Inducement  As noted above, in Count III of their Complaint Plaintiffs assert a claim for fraud in the inducement. (Compl., ¶¶ 86-92). Specifically, Plaintiffs allege as follows: In the initial meeting between Mr. Fabius and defendants Toro and Adelman, the defendants made several false, misleading and fraudulent statements and representations of material facts to him, including unsupported statements about the potential earning capacity as a [] Medinexo franchisee. Subsequently during the negotiation of the […]

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Connecticut Federal Court Rules for Franchisee and Strikes Unfair Floating Forum Selection Clause

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

Connecticut Federal Court Rules for Franchisee and Strikes Unfair Floating Forum Selection Clause The United States District Court for the District of Connecticut has ruled that a franchisee of Doctors Express who purchased the exclusive rights to develop and manage Doctors Express Urgent Care franchises in two counties in New York and Connecticut was permitted to sue the franchisor in a court in Connecticut despite a forum selection clause in the agreement requiring that the litigation be filed in Alabama since the forum selection clause could not be presumed enforceable, because it was not reasonably communicated to the franchisee that he agreed to file suit in the jurisdiction where a future assignee of Doctors Express was based and because enforcement by that assignee, AFC Franchising, LLC, was not sufficiently foreseeable to him; accordingly, it would be “unfair, unjust, and unreasonable” to hold the franchisee to a clause that did not provide sufficient notice as to the forum being selected. DANILO PURUGGANAN, PLAINTIFF V. AFC FRANCHISING, LLC, DEFENDANT, Bus. Franchise Guide (CCH) P 16657 (C.C.H.), 2020 WL 3274207 (May 13, 2020)   —————————————————– Excerpt of Court’s Decision:   Because the Defendant’s motion turns on the interpretation and enforceability of the MDA’s forum selection clause, as indicated above, the Court’s assessment of the four inquiries set forth by the Second Circuit supplants the traditional inquiry undertaken in a forum non conveniens analysis. Federal common law governs the fourth inquiry, and the Second Circuit has assumed without deciding that federal common law likewise applies to the first inquiry. Starkey […]

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