FRESNO, Calif. — A federal judge in California in an order docketed Dec. 20 granted preliminary approval to a $4 million class settlement to be paid by a fast food franchisee to end claims over ads sent via allegedly unwanted text messages (Cory Larson, et al. v. Harman-Management Corporation, No. 16-219, E.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 219294).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Cleaners who sued a cleaning company franchisor over franchise fees made no “viable” unjust enrichment claim as they did nothing more than claim that the franchise agreement requiring fees was an employment agreement and so any fee or payment is void, a federal judge in Connecticut ruled Jan. 3, denying the cleaners’ motion for reconsideration, which followed the judge’s Dec. 21 summary judgment ruling for the franchisor (Simon Mujo, et al. v. Jani-King International, Inc., et al., No. 16-1990, D. Conn., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 679).
NEW YORK — On Jan. 3 — one day after a federal judge in New York released a memorandum and order explaining her reasoning behind a Dec. 13 approval of a final settlement valued at more than $6.3 billion in a class complaint brought on behalf of more than 12 million nationwide merchants, including franchisees, who accept or accepted Visa and Mastercard-branded cards for payments who alleged that the Visa, Mastercard and the issuing banks harmed competition and charged supracompetative fees — two class members filed a notice of appeal in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, No. 05-MD-1720, E.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 216796).
NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey federal judge on Dec. 26 dismissed employees’ claims against a tax preparation services franchisor arising after the effective date of a statute in Oklahoma wage law but denied dismissal of claims arising before the statute’s effective date (Wanda Mardis, et al. v. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc., et al., No. 16-2115, D. N.J., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 221573).
PITTSBURGH — A McDonald’s customer sued the restaurant’s corporate and Pittsburgh franchise owners on Dec. 11, alleging in a Pennsylvania state court that an employee’s assault left him paralyzed after a fight broke out between his wife and several McDonald’s employees (Mark Conn v. McDonald’s Corp., et al., No. 19-017863, Pa. Comm. Pls., Allegheny Co.).
HARTFORD, Conn. — Under state and federal statutes, a Connecticut judge ruled Nov. 26 that a former franchisor is not a guarantor of the current franchisor’s obligations under a gasoline dealership’s franchise agreements (Gulf Dealers of Connecticut v. Blue Hills Fuels, LLC, No. X07HHDCV176083069S, Conn. Super., Hartford Dist., 2019 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2989).
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 23 upheld an order enjoining franchisees’ California state court case against the franchisor of Subway restaurants and its development agents based upon an arbitration provision in the franchise agreement (Doctor’s Associates, LLC v. Manoj Tripathi, et al., No. 16-4329, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 38358).
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky federal judge on Dec. 19 dismissed a tax-preparation service and its president’s third-party claims against a bank for alleged tortious interference in prospective economic advantage and breach of contract because the bank is being improperly impleaded for separate claims that do not affect the liability in a franchisor’s original case alleging violations under the Lanham Act and the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) (JTH Tax, Inc., et al. v. Freedom Tax, Inc., et al., No. 19-00085, W.D. Ky., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 218210).
MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge in Minnesota on Dec. 18 denied a distributor’s motion for a preliminary injunction against manufacturers of burners that are used in boilers,enjoining them from terminating a business relationship because the distributor is not a franchisee and “has not met the very high standard required for a preliminary injunction” (Louis Degidio, Inc., et al. v. Industrial Combustion, LLC, et al., No. 19-2690, D. Minn., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 217472).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 17 affirmed summary judgment in favor of the franchised operator of an IHOP restaurant in an employee discrimination lawsuit because a former employee failed to provide any direct evidence that a manager’s comments about her pregnancy were “closely linked to an adverse employment decision” (Emori Dodson v. Flying Dove, Inc., d/b/a IHOP #2045, No. 19-3091, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 37316).
NEW YORK — In memorandums and orders filed Dec. 16, a federal judge in New York signed off on a final settlement approval valued at more than $6.3 billion, attorney fees totaling 9.31 percent of the settlement and service awards in a class complaint brought on behalf of more than 12 million merchants, including franchisees, nationwide who accept or accepted Visa and Mastercard-branded cards for payments who alleged that the Visa, Mastercard and the issuing banks harmed competition and charged supracompetative fees (In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, No. 05-MD-1720, E.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 216796).
NORFOLK, Va. — The United States of America and a tax preparation service franchisor on Dec. 3 in a federal court in Virginia moved to settle a complaint that was filed the same day accusing the franchisor of failing to prevent the preparation and submission of “false or fraudulent” tax returns (United States v. Franchise Group Intermediate L 1, LLC, No. 19-653, E.D. Va.).
CHICAGO — An Illinois federal judge on Dec. 12 dismissed a visually impaired woman’s claim for violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against the franchisor of Wendy’s restaurants because there was no alleged discrimination based on a disability (Nicole Davis v. Wendy’s International, LLC, No. 19-04003, N.D. Ill., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 214028).
GREENVILLE, N.C. — A hotel employee who was raped by a guest at a North Carolina EconoLodge failed to assert a claim based upon a "Good Samaritan" theory of negligence against the hotel chain’s franchisor, a North Carolina federal judge ruled Dec. 6 (Tamara R. Murrill v. Choice Hotels International Inc., No. 18-32, E.D. N.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 213506).
LOS ANGELES — Two months after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Domino’s Pizza LLC’s petition for certiorari in an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit over the alleged inaccessibility of its website for visually impaired patrons, a California federal judge on Dec. 12 ordered that default be entered against the pizza chain on remand for its failure to respond to the plaintiff’s amended complaint (Guillermo Robles v. Domino’s Pizza LLC, No. 2:16-cv-06599, C.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Over objections by the charging parties, a split National Labor Relations Board panel on Dec. 12 ruled 2-1 to vacate an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) order that denied approval of multiple settlement agreements involving McDonald’s USA LLC, McDonald’s Restaurants of Illinois Inc. and a large number of franchisees accused of retaliating against workers involved in an organizing campaign for higher pay based on a lack of finding that McDonald’s USA was a joint employer and remanded the case to the ALJ with instructions to approve the agreements (McDonald’s USA, LLC, et al. v. Fast Food Workers Committee and Service Employees International Union, CTW, CLC, et al., Nos. 02-CA-093893 et al., NLRB).
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A franchisor of Golden Corral restaurants and a former server at one of its chains on Dec. 9 settled their dispute in Arkansas federal court over allegations that the server’s firing was based upon discrimination for having human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (Jimmy Davis v. Golden Partners, Inc., No. 18-5188, W.D. Ark.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 11 denied a petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc following an Oct. 1 decision in which a split panel held that McDonald’s Inc. and its subsidiaries aren’t a joint employer of franchised locations’ workers and can’t be held liable for overtime claims (Guadalupe Salazar, et al. v. McDonald’s Corp., et al., No. 17-15673, 9th Cir.; 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 36683).
SAN FRANCISCO — Volkswagen dealerships failed to provide proof of any damages following alleged emissions fraud that are recoverable for claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and for state law civil conspiracy claims, a federal judge in California ruled Dec. 6, granting summary judgment to a German multinational engineering and technology company and its subsidiary (In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2672 related to Napleton, No. 16-02086, N.D. Calif.).
SEATTLE — On the heels of a September summary judgment ruling in favor of a trademark infringement counterclaimant, a federal judge on Dec. 6 permanently enjoined further use of the “Bok Bok” unregistered mark by a plaintiff in the state of Washington (BBC Group NV LLC v. Island Life Restaurant Group LLC, No. 18-1011, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 210866).