SEATTLE — A Washington federal judge on April 23 partially granted a partial motion to dismiss counterclaims and cross-claims brought against a franchisor and directed a former direct mail franchisee to identify specific contract breaches and instances of unjust enrichment if he wishes to proceed with those two counter-/cross-claims (Money Mailer, LLC v. Wade G. Brewer, Wade G. Brewer v. Money Mailer, LLC, et al., No. 15-1215, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67966).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 23 found that there were numerous disputes of material fact and partially reversed a trial court’s summary judgment ruling in a multifaceted dispute between a travel company and a former employee and her husband who opened a travel company franchise (Karen D’Onofrio v. Vacation Publications, Incorporated v. Michael D’Onofrio, No. 16-20628, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 10353).
NEW HAVEN, Conn — After finding that hotel franchisors have no agency relationship with a franchisee and owed no duty of care to a guest who slipped and fell while staying at the franchisee’s property, a Connecticut judge on March 15 granted summary judgment in their favor (Welansa Asrat v. Nirmala, LLC, et al., No. CV166064293S, Conn. Super., 2018 Conn. Super. LEXIS 588).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A chancery court judge in Tennessee on March 16 awarded partial summary judgment to the owners of two franchises seeking to rescind two franchise agreements after finding that a franchisor cannot seek contractual immunity from the lawsuit because the plaintiffs’ claims sound in tort law, not contract (Florida Home Care Givers LLC, et al. v. Sitters Etc. Franchising LLC, et al., No. 16-449-BC, Tenn. Chanc., Davidson Co., 2018 Tenn. Bus. LEXIS 3).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on March 28 partially granted a motion for summary judgment filed by former franchisee hotel owners after determining that questions of fact exist as to whether the franchisor breached its obligations under a franchise agreement by providing inadequate franchisor support services (Wyndham Hotel Group International Inc. v. Silver Entertainment LLC, et al., No. 15-7996, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52144).
CHICAGO — An Illinois federal judge on April 17 granted a gas supplier’s motion to dismiss claims alleged against it by two gas stations after determining that the two gas stations at issue are not franchised gas stations and are, therefore, not subject to the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA) (Catch 26, LLC, et al. v. LGP Realty Holdings, LP, No. 17-cv-6135, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64534).
PASADENA, Calif. — A franchise of independent appraisers on April 16 filed its opening brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing that a district court erred in refusing to compel arbitration of its dispute with franchisees and that its decision to compel arbitration was not required under Laxmi Invs., L.L.C. v. Golf USA, 193 F.3d 1095 (9th Cir. 1999) (Brian K. Nygaard, et al. v. Property Damage Appraisers Inc., No. 18-15055, 9th Cir.).
DENVER — A Colorado federal judge on April 12 found that a lessee fails to offer a construction of the restrictive covenant in a shopping center lease that does not render the majority of its language superfluous, granting the lessor’s motion for summary judgment on claims for breach of contract, bad faith, specific performance and injunctive relief (Northglenn Gunther Toody's, LLC v. HQ8-10410-10450 Melody Lane, LLC, et al., No. 16-2427, D. Colo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62171).
LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Kentucky federal judge on April 5 found that although fraud and negligent misrepresentation claims against a franchise owner are barred as a matter of law by the economic-loss rule, its officer can be personally liable in tort because he had a personal duty independent of the franchisee’s contractual duties not to make material misrepresentations in connection with the sale of the franchise (Younger Brothers Investments LLC v. Active Enterprises, Inc., et al., No. 17-317, E.D. Ky., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58182).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 3 affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a franchisor’s counterclaims for breach of contract against its franchisee after determining that the Board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, and not the district court, possesses jurisdiction over the claims (Autobahn Imports L.P., v. Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC, No. 17-10349, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8723).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut federal judge on April 9 denied a motion to reconsider his March 31 decision granting in part a motion to dismiss filed by a cleaning company franchisor in a class complaint over its deductions for fees (Simon Mujo, et al. v. Jani-King International, Inc., et al., No. 16-1990, D. Conn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62059).
BOSTON — A panel of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on April 13 affirmed a lower court judge’s ruling denying Exxon Mobil Corp.’s request to quash the state’s attorney general’s civil investigative demand (CID) for documents related to the company’s knowledge about fossil fuels and climate change, finding that she has personal jurisdiction over the case because the company has rights to control more than 300 retail franchisees in the state (Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Attorney General, No. SJC-12376, Mass. Sup.).
ORLANDO, Fla. — After finding that a franchisee failed to respond to a restaurant franchise’s request for fees, a magistrate judge on March 26 recommended that the franchise’s request for an award of fees incurred in defending claims for violation of Florida law and civil conspiracy be granted, but reduced the amount of costs it sought (HRCC Ltd. v. Hard Rock Café International [USA] Inc., et al., No. 6:14-cv-2004, M.D. Fla.).
INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana federal judge on March 30 granted a pizza franchisee’s motion for summary judgment on a franchisor’s breach of contract claims, finding that the method the franchisor used to calculate the amount of the franchisee’s underpayment of royalties was not allowed under the franchise agreements (Noble Roman's, Inc. v. Hattenhauer Distributing Company, No. 17-1415, S.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53756).
COVINGTON, Ky. — A federal judge in Kentucky on April 10 denied a hotel company’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a former employee who contracted Legionnaire’s disease while performing maintenance duties, concluding that the work the man was doing when he was exposed to the Legionnaire’s bacteria was not was “regular or recurring” (Paul Tarter v. AP/AIM Rivercenter Suites, No. 16-78, E.D. Ky.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60295).
RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia federal court didn’t abuse its discretion when it denied a franchisee’s Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 70 motion in a dispute over transferring ownership of sandwich shops back to her ex-husband, a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled April 10 (Kamaljit Nijjar v. Doctor’s Associates, Inc., No. 17-1812, 4th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8964).
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah federal judge on March 26 denied Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants Inc.’s motion to compel arbitration in a franchisee’s lawsuit alleging that it violated the Utah Business Opportunity Disclosure Act, misrepresented material facts and committed breach of contract (Campbell Investments LLC, et al., v. Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, Inc., No. 17-832, D. Utah, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50559).
ORLANDO, Fla. — A federal judge in Florida on April 5 denied a motion to certify two classes for franchisees of the Wyndham Hotel Group over faxes they received in 2013 and 2015 from a safe company accused of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), finding that the issue of whether the hotels consented to receive the faxes predominated over classwide issues (Gorss Motels Inc., et al. v. Safemark Systems LP, No. 16-cv-01638-Orl-31DCI, M.D. Fla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58111).
MONTGOMERY, Ala.— An 8-1 Alabama Supreme Court on March 30 upheld a trial court judge’s decision to deny dismissal of a suit brought by a heavy equipment dealer against a supplier, holding that the Legislature intended the Alabama Heavy Equipment Dealer Act (AHEDA) to allow a dealer to bring suit in Alabama despite an outbound forum-selection clause in an agreement with the supplier that called for disputes to be resolved in Georgia federal court (Ex parte Terex USA LLC, No. 1161113, Ala. Sup., 2018 Ala. LEXIS 33).
CHICAGO — A majority of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 10 affirmed a lower federal court’s dismissal of a putative class action alleging that a franchisor committed unfair and deceptive business practices by advertising and selling one-hour massages that lasted only 50 minutes (Kathy Haywood, et al. v. Massage Envy Franchising, LLC, No. 17-2402, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8982).