TEXARKANA, Texas — A Nissan franchisee’s sale performance did not constitute a breach of a dealer sales and service agreement, a Texas appeals panel held Nov. 22, also finding that the franchisee did not breach the agreement by “willfully falsifying its tax returns and by knowingly submitting false financial statements” (Nissan North America, Inc. v. Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, et al., No. 06-19-00007-CV, Texas App., 6th Dist., 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 10138).
SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court on Nov. 20 agreed to decide whether Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court applies retroactively after the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals certified the question to the high court in a case concerning cleaning service franchisees’ status as employees (Gerardo Vazquez, et al. v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., No. S258191, Calif. Sup.).
CHICAGO — Seventeen employees of McDonald’s restaurants in the Chicago area sued corporate- and franchise-owned stores on Nov. 21 in an Illinois state court for failure to protect them from customers’ violent behavior, which has resulted in physical and psychological injuries (Sonia Acuña, et al. v. McDonald’s Corp., et al., No. 2019-CH-13477, Ill. Cir, Cook Co.).
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A franchisor of Golden Corral restaurants accused of discrimination was denied summary judgment on Nov. 12 by an Arkansas federal judge, who found evidence that the firing of a server with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) could have been pretextual (Jimmy Davis v. Golden Partners Inc., No. 18-5188, W.D. Ark., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195763).
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — An effort by a former franchisee and recipient of an unsolicited junk fax to certify a nationwide class was again unsuccessful on Nov. 4, when a federal judge in Indiana denied reconsideration of her May finding that “questions of prior express invitation or permission” to receive the fax in question “are individual inquires that predominate over common issues” (Gorss Motels Inc. v. Brigadoon Fitness Inc., et al., No. 16-cv-330-HAB, N.D. Ind., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190548).
PORTLAND, Ore. — In a more-than-100-page opinion addressing 15 different summary judgment motions, an Oregon federal judge on Nov. 13 determined that the plaintiffs in a putative class action filed against fast food restaurant franchisor Jack in the Box Inc. are entitled to summary judgment on their claim that Jack in the Box violated Oregon law by failing to pay the plaintiffs and other employees within the period required by law when Jack in the Box transferred its Oregon restaurants to its franchisees (Jessica Gessele, et al. v. Jack in the Box Inc., No. 3:14-cv-1092, D. Ore., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 196627).
NEWARK, N.J. — In a putative class action by seasonal tax preparers over a franchisor’s no-poach agreements, a federal judge in New Jersey on Oct. 31 dismissed only claims against a tax preparation franchisor and its subsidiary that occurred before Dec. 20, 2014 (Jessica Robinson, et al. v. Jackson Hewitt, Inc., et al., No. 19-9066, D. N.J., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188962).
WICHITA, Kan. — A federal judge in Kansas on Oct. 30 dismissed a franchisee’s lawsuit under the Automobile Dealers Day in Court Act (ADDCA) against Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. because the franchisee was not a party to the dealer agreement (Michael E. Steven, et al. v. Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc., No. 19-1179, D. Kan., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189227).
MIAMI — A tax preparation franchisor, its related entities and its board members accuse a group of former and current franchisees and area representatives in a Nov. 4 complaint filed in a Florida federal court of breaching their franchise agreements’ nondisparagement clause by initiating a “vindictive” campaign of “anonymous” false and defamatory emails against the franchisor (Happy Tax Holding Corp., et al. Jamey Hill, et al., No. 19-24552, S.D. Fla.).
DETROIT — A plaintiff alleging violations of a noncompete provision in a franchise agreement who waited more than a year to seek a preliminary injunction saw its request denied Oct. 18 by a federal judge in Michigan, who deemed the delay unreasonable (DetailXPerts Franchise Systems LLC v. Deck Inc., et al., No. 19-10037, E.D. Mich., 2019 US Dist. LEXIS 180234).
SAN FRANCISCO — California’s labor commissioner argues in a Nov. 8 amicus curiae brief in support of the withdrawal of a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel’s decision on joint employment liability under California wage-and-hour law in a wage class lawsuit against McDonald’s Corp. and the certification of workers’ proposed questions on that liability to California’s high court to “promote clarity and uniformity in applying California wage-and-hour law” (Guadalupe Salazar, et al. v. McDonald’s Corp., et al., No. 17-15673, 9th Cir.).
DETROIT — A Michigan woman filed a class complaint on Nov. 12 accusing McDonald’s USA LLC, McDonald’s Corp. and a Michigan franchisee of failing to address a “systemic problem” of harassment of employees, including groping and physical assaults (Jenna Ries, et al. v. McDonald’s USA, LLC, et al., No. 19-829, Mich. Cir., Ingham Co.).
DENVER — A panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 7 found that a federal judge in Utah erred in ordering a franchisor to resume its relationship with a former franchisee, including the revival of a disputed trademark license agreement (TLA) (Mrs. Fields Franchising LLC v. MFGPC Inc., Nos. 19-4046, -4063, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 33521).
DAYTON, Ohio — Delivery drivers employed by pizza franchisees who show that they were not paid minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and were not reimbursed for their actual expenses are owed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rate for mileage reimbursement, a federal judge in Ohio ruled Nov. 5 (Tammy Hatmaker, et al. v. PJ Ohio, LLC, et al., No. 17-146, S.D. Ohio, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191790).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 7 denied a petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc filed by a cleaning service franchisor after a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 24 ruled that franchisees may proceed with claims that they are employees under the ABC test established in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court (Gerardo Vazquez, et al. v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., No. 17-16096, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 33373).
ERIE, Pa. — A rent-to-own (RTO) franchisee being sued for privacy violations over the installation of spyware on customers’ computers was denied access to a confidential settlement between its franchisor and the plaintiffs on Oct. 22, with a Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge finding that the franchisee failed to establish relevance or a need for the requested information sufficient to support its motion to compel (Crystal Byrd, et al. v. Aaron’s Inc., et al., No. 1:11-cv-00101, W.D. Pa.).
ATLANTA — A Georgia appeals court on Oct. 31 threw out jury awards of $47 million and $7 million to two women who were seriously injured when an SUV stolen and driven after hours by an employee of an Avis Rent a Car location crashed into the brick wall they were sitting on (Avis Rent A Car System LLC, et al. v. Brianna Johnson, Nos. A19A0928 and A19A0929, Ga. App., 5th Dist., Ga. App. LEXIS 658, and Avis Rent A Car System LLC, et al. v. Adrienne Danielle Smith, Nos. A19A1503 and A19A1504, Ga. App., 5th Dist., 2019 Ga. App. LEXIS 654).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 4 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by Staples Inc. and Staples The Office Superstore Inc. seeking clarification of Maryland’s taxation rule and a decision on whether a state may treat franchise fees, royalty fees and similar payments from in-state businesses to out-of-state businesses as income earned in that state by the out-of-state business (Staples, Inc., et al. v. Maryland Comptroller of the Treasury, No. 19-119, U.S. Sup.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A class representative on Oct. 30 asked a Florida federal court for preliminary approval of a $6 million class settlement over unwanted text messages sent from a pizza chain franchisee (Brian Keim, et al. v. ADF MidAtlantic, LLC, et al., No. 12-80577, S.D. Fla.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel’s decision in a wage class complaint finding McDonald’s Corp. isn’t a joint employer of franchised locations workers was in error as there is intra-circuit conflict between that ruling and Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., and the panel decided four issues of first impression under California law that have not been decided by the California Supreme Court, the workers allege in an Oct. 29 petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc (Guadalupe Salazar, et al. v. McDonald’s Corp., et al., No. 17-15673, 9th Cir.).