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.).
RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina federal judge on Oct. 29 denied a motion for judgment on the pleadings brought by competitors of General Nutrition Corp. (GNC) over claims that the competitors engaged in tortious interference and unfair and deceptive trade practices by encouraging GNC’s franchisees to violate covenants not to compete (General Nutrition Corp. v. Nutrition Zone Franchising, Inc., et al., No. 18-580, E.D. N.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186780).
CHICAGO — McDonald’s USA LLC in an Oct. 18 filing tells an Illinois federal court that it is entitled to summary judgment in a disability violations class action because it is not liable for a franchisee’s policy on late night service and that it and the franchisee did not know about the claimed visual impairment (Karen Morey v. McDonald’s Corp., et al., No. 18-1137, N.D. Ill.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 25 denied a petition for writ of mandamus filed by a tool distribution franchisor seeking to compel a district court to dismiss a franchisee’s lawsuit over employment status or to transfer it to Ohio pursuant to a forum-selection clause in distributor agreements (In re: Matco Tools Corporation, et al., No. 19-71352, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 32060).
DETROIT — Under employment agreements, a Michigan federal judge on Oct. 25 compelled former employees of Domino's to arbitrate claims of a conspiracy between Domino’s and its franchisees to suppress wages and limit employment opportunities (Harley Blanton, et al. v. Domino’s Pizza Franchising LLC, et al., No. 18-13207, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184817).
PHOENIX — An Arizona federal judge on Oct. 23 granted a franchisor’s motion for contempt and sanctions after determining that a former franchisee failed to comply with a preliminary injunction by not taking reasonable steps to remove customer reviews from Google, Facebook and Angie's List that reference the franchisor’s business (ReBath LLC v. HD Solutions LLC, et al., No. 19-4873, D. Ariz., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183614).
MIAMI — Franchisors of Tim Hortons restaurants are entitled to judgment as to liability on their claims for breach of franchise agreements and subleases and trademark infringement as well as the former franchisees’ counterclaims, a Florida magistrate judge said Oct. 17, recommending granting in part partial summary judgment to the franchisors (Tim Hortons USA, Inc., States, et al. v. Tims Milner LLC, et al., No. 18-24152, S.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180886).
SAN FRANCISCO — In a dispute between Monster Energy Co. and another beverage company over the termination of an exclusive distribution rights agreement, a majority of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 22 reversed a lower court’s confirmation of an arbitration award because the arbitrator failed to disclose his ownership interest in JAMS (Monster Energy Co. v. City Beverages, LLC, Nos. 17-55813 & 17-56082, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 31388).
NEWARK, N.J. — A real estate franchisor’s motion to dismiss a putative class complaint by a California man who claims that he received a dozen unwanted calls from agents looking to sell his home was denied on Oct. 22 by a federal judge in New Jersey, who ruled that the plaintiff sufficiently alleged that the calls violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and that the franchisor was vicariously liable for the calls (Jorge Valdes, et al. v. Century 21 Real Estate, LLC, No. 19-5411, D. N.J., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182616).
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge in Kentucky on Oct. 21 declined to dismiss class claims accusing a pizza chain franchisor of violating the Sherman Act by coordinating no-poach agreements between its franchisees and let stand claims of fraudulent concealment but agreed to dismiss the claims of one of the three named plaintiffs, finding that her claims are covered by an arbitration agreement (In re Papa John’s Employee and Franchisee Employee Antitrust Litigation, No. 18-825, W.D. Ky., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181298).
GREENBELT, Md. — A wheelchair bound man who claims that an Applebee’s franchisee failed to make certain restaurant locations’ parking lots accessible as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) hasn’t shown commonality, a federal judge in Maryland ruled on Oct. 21, dismissing the man’s class claims (Ty Williams, et al. v. Potomac Family Dining Group Operating Company, LLC, No. 19-1780, D. Md., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181604).
MOBILE, Ala. — In two separate rulings issued Oct. 17, an Alabama federal judge denied an auto dealership’s motion to exclude expert testimony offered by the auto manufacturer after determining that the testimony is reliable and said that based on the testimony, the dealership’s motion for summary judgment must be denied as the testimony creates an issue of fact on the reasonableness of the auto manufacturer’s decision to establish an additional dealership near an existing dealership (GPI AL Inc. v. Nissan North America Inc., No. 17-511, S.D. Ala., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179491, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179494).
RALEIGH, N.C. — A panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals on Oct. 15 refused to undo a directed verdict of no negligent supervision and in so doing rejected the appeal of a motorist injured by a drunk driver who was overserved at a Wild Wing Café franchise (Dung Thang Trang v. LJ Wings Inc., et al., No. 19-142, N.C. App., 2019 N.C. App. LEXIS 843).