SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A New York justice on April 13 granted an insurer’s motion to dismiss a breach of contract lawsuit seeking coverage for losses arising from the coronavirus pandemic, finding that the hotel owners fail to allege any direct physical loss or damage to their premises to trigger coverage under the business interruption, ingress/egress, civil and military authority and rental insurance policy provisions.
BOSTON — In briefs filed April 19 and Feb. 16, respectively, convenience store chain 7-Eleven and franchisees, who filed a proposed class action alleging they were misclassified as contractors rather than employees, ask the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to determine whether Massachusetts’ three-prong test for independent contractor status conflicts with federal franchising regulations.
MIAMI — A trial court erred in dismissing predatory business scheme claims against a Tim Hortons franchisor because the complaint properly states a plausible claim for relief, an association of the restaurant’s franchisees argues to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in its April 16 appellant brief, which followed court-requested briefs on whether the court has diversity jurisdiction over the appeal.
TRENTON, N.J. — A trade association that represents New Jersey’s franchised automobile dealerships lacked standing to challenge state agencies’ discretionary enforcement actions allowing Tesla to sell its vehicles directly to consumers in the state, the New Jersey appellate court concluded April 20.
SEATTLE — A direct marketing services franchisee did not prevail in a suit in which claims against him were voluntarily dismissed and his counterclaims were abandoned or dismissed on summary judgment, a Washington federal judge held April 12, denying a petition to make the franchisor who initially filed the suit pay $892,855.71 in attorney fees and costs under the franchise agreement.
ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 6 said it cannot determine whether it has jurisdiction over an urgent care facility franchisor’s dispute with a franchisee under complete diversity of citizenship, remanding the case to an Alabama federal court to determine the parties’ citizenship.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Shell Oil Co. charges consumers paying with debit cards an undisclosed fee in violation of Florida’s consumer protection laws, a class alleges in a complaint filed April 16 in a federal court in Florida.
ST. LOUIS — A lawn mower manufacturer seeks to vacate an award of more than $6.5 million in damages, attorney fees and costs to one of its dealers, arguing to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in its April 9 appellant brief that the dealer’s expert provided no evidence of damages from the alleged breach of the parties’ contract or wrongful termination of the dealer.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A guest who alleged injuries from tripping over a cord did not prove that the parent company of a hotel franchisor exercised sufficient control over the franchisee to establish a duty of care to its guests, an Alabama federal judge ruled April 14, granting summary judgment in favor of the parent company on claims of negligence and recklessness and wantonness under Alabama law.
SAN FRANCISCO — Three salespeople who allege that their business was harmed by Volkswagen’s emissions scandal tell the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an April 9 appellant brief that a district court erred in concluding that the car maker was not their employer under California law and in granting a motion to dismiss their class employment and unfair competition law (UCL) claims.
DENVER — In an April 13 ruling, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that although a federal judge in Oklahoma did not abuse his discretion in granting a motion to enforce a settlement agreement between a franchisor and former franchisee accused of trademark infringement, he “went too far” in entering a $200,000 judgment.
BOSTON — The owner of a Liberty Tax Service location in Massachusetts must pay $136,532 in penalties for refusing to put in place various safeguards to protect employees and customers from coronavirus, including prohibiting employees and customers from wearing masks, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced April 13.
WILMINGTON, N.C. — A federal judge in North Carolina on April 13 held that franchises of Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa fail to plausibly assert that their insurance policies’ Communicable Disease Provision was implicated by their claimed lost income arising from their business closures prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, finding that the insureds do not assert that COVID-19 was ever present at their insured premises.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut federal judge on March 31 denied class certification in a motel’s case claiming that Sprint Solutions Inc. sent five unsolicited fax ads over three years in violation of the Junk Fax Prevention Act, ruling that the motel cannot show that classwide issues predominate over individual issues of consent.
ST. LOUIS — A split Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 30 reversed a district court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration, ruling in a 2-1 decision that a corporation’s litigation strategy did not waive its right to arbitrate with a former employee who alleged that a franchise violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay overtime.
CINCINNATI — An Ohio federal judge denied business coaching franchisees’ motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, failure to state a claim and improper venue on March 31 in a franchisor’s suit accusing the defendants of failing to pay royalties due under the franchise agreement after they changed the name of their business without consent. The judge agreed to dismiss a fraud claim against the owner of the franchise.
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A Pennsylvania federal judge on March 19 granted a hotel franchisor’s motion to compel arbitration, ruling that arbitration clauses in its franchise agreements with 90 franchisees are valid and enforceable, ordering individual arbitration on the franchisees’ allegations that the franchisor discriminated against Indian-American and South-Asian American franchisees and violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) with a $61.4 million kickback scheme.
DETROIT — A Michigan federal judge on March 31 denied a franchisor’s motion to compel arbitration, holding that its dispute with two franchisees over the operation of a virtual computer training platform did not implicate the parties’ franchise agreements. The dispute fell under the parties’ participation agreements (PAs), which do not contain an arbitration clause, the judge said.
NEWARK, N.J. — Domino’s pizza restaurant franchise delivery drivers on April 1 filed an unopposed motion in a New Jersey federal court for final approval of a $1.48 million class action settlement. The deal would resolve claims that the franchise owners and operators short-changed their delivery drivers in reimbursing them for the miles they drove their vehicles for work.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Rejecting new claims asserted in an amended complaint, an Oregon federal judge on March 31 dismissed with prejudice a woman’s suit against three hotel chains alleging violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) by profiting from her sex trafficking.