CHICAGO — An Illinois federal judge on Feb. 27 granted final approval of an $807,500 collective and class settlement for Domino’s Pizza franchisee delivery drivers who claim that the franchisee improperly took a tip credit from the wages of drivers and that drivers were not adequately reimbursed for their delivery-related expenses, resulting in failure to pay minimum wage (Samantha Young, et al. v. Rolling in the Dough, Inc., No. 17-7825, N.D. Ill.).
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Feb. 21 conditionally certified a collective of delivery drivers for a chicken wings franchisee who claim that they were forced to share tips with kitchen workers in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state law but denied certification of a class, finding that the drivers were unable to show commonality and predominance (Jacob Wilson, et al. v. Wings Over Happy Valley MDF, LLC, et al., No. 17-915, M.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30207).
NEW YORK — A commercial liability umbrella insurer sued a commercial general liability primary insurer in a New York court on March 3, seeking a declaration that two wrongful death lawsuits over the consumption of contaminated food and beverages that were allegedly served by a McDonald’s franchisee employee who was infected with the hepatitis A virus (HAV) arise from separate occurrences and, therefore, that the amount the primary insurer paid in connection with one of the lawsuits does not reduce any of its per-occurrence limits applicable to the second action (RSUI Indemnity Company v. Aspen Specialty Insurance Company, No. 651439/2020, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
MIAMI — An association of Tim Hortons franchisees on Feb. 27 sued the equity group that purchased the Canadian restaurant chain’s franchise system in federal court in Florida, contending that the equity group’s scheme to require franchisees to buy coffee and materials from sole suppliers is resulting in price gouging that is allowing the group and the suppliers to reap “outrageous profits” at the expense of the franchisees (Great White North Franchisee Association-USA Inc. v. Tim Hortons USA Inc., et al., No. 20-cv-20878, S.D. Fla.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court issued an order on Feb. 26 denying a request by franchisees to expand the question of California law being considered by the high court after the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals asked it to decide whether the ruling in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court is to be applied retroactively (Gerardo Vazquez, et al. v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., No. S258191, Calif. Sup.).
NEW YORK — The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule revising its regulations interpreting the joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) threaten protections for low- and middle-income workers, make those workers more vulnerable to wage theft and cost them more than $1 billion annually, New York, 16 other states and the District of Columbia allege in a complaint filed Feb. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (New York, et al. v. Eugene Scalia, et al., No. 20-1689, S.D. N.Y.).
WACO, Texas — Thirty-two franchisees filed a breach of contract complaint on Feb. 7 in a Texas federal court against the franchisor of 30-minute fitness and weight loss centers because it and its related entities knew they had an unsustainable system but hid that information from franchisees (Bonita Arruda, et al. v. Curves International, Inc., et al., No. 20-92, W.D. Texas).
WACO, Texas — A federal judge in Texas on Feb. 19 awarded $3.6 million to a franchise company of home services brands and one of its subsidiaries in their trademark and copyright dispute with an employment company (ProTradeNet LLC v. Predictive Profiles, Inc., c/w Predictive Profiles, Inc. v. ProTradeNet LLC, et al., No. 18-38, W.D. Texas).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Trade Commission announced Feb. 21 that it reached settlements with three rent-to-own operators (RTOs)over violations of federal antitrust law through the operators’ negotiation and execution of reciprocal purchase agreements that affected certain markets (In the matter of Aaron’s, Inc., No. 191-0074, In the matter of Buddy’s Newco, LLC, No. 191-0074, and In the matter of Rent-A-Center, Inc., No. 191-0074, FTC).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Labor Relations Board on Feb. 25 announced that its joint employer final rule will be issued on Feb. 26 and will restore the joint-employer standard applied by the NLRB prior to Browning-Ferris, 362 NLRB No. 186 (2015).
CINCINNATI — A lawsuit by former Domino’s employees who accuse the franchisor and its franchisees of conspiring to suppress wages and limit employment opportunities was properly sent to arbitration by the trial court as the arbitration agreement delegates all arbitrability issues to an arbitrator, the franchisor claims in a Feb. 20 appellee brief filed in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Derek Piersing, et al. v. Domino’s Pizza Franchising LLC, et al., No. 19-2388, 6th Cir.).
JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi federal judge on Feb. 14 approved a settlement for $5,000 in an employee’s lawsuit against the owner of a Pizza Hut franchise and the owner and manager of an apartment complex where the employee suffered injuries from an assault by a third party while delivering pizza (Jemuel Gates v. YUM! Brands, Inc., et al., No. 19-830, S.D. Miss.).
RALEIGH, N.C. — A trial court erred in denying a motion to dismiss or transfer a franchisee’s declaratory judgment against the franchisor of smoothies stores over an alleged breach of a multiunit agreement and assignment agreement, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held Feb. 4, because the agreements contain mandatory forum-selection clauses (S&S Family Business Corp., et al. v. Clean Juice Franchising, LLC, No. COA19-264, N.C. App., 2020 N.C. App. LEXIS 128).
MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin federal judge on Feb. 13 granted in part a motion to dismiss and dismissed common-law misrepresentation claims against a franchisor of laser tag facilities, its affiliate and their owners under the economic loss doctrine (Steven Falk, et al. v. Joseph N. Wheeler Jr., et al., No. 19-1168, E.D. Wis., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26575).
SEATTLE — No triable issues remain as to a restaurant operation business’s Washington Consumer Protection Act (CPA) claim over use of a “Bok Bok” mark, a Washington federal judge held Feb. 14, citing an order granting summary judgment to the business on its Lanham Act claims and granting in part its request for a permanent injunction (BBC Group NV LLC v. Island Life Restaurant Group LLC, et al., No. 18-1011, W.D. Wash., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26317).
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Feb. 19 granted summary judgment to franchisor 7-Eleven Inc. on unpaid overtime claims brought by franchisees on behalf of themselves and a class, finding that the franchisees failed to provide sufficient evidence; however, the judge permitted the franchisees to proceed with their claims seeking unpaid reimbursements (Serge Haitayan, et al. v. 7-Eleven, Inc., No. 17-7454, C.D. Calif.).
GREENSBORO, N.C. — A federal judge in North Carolina on Feb. 18 partially granted a motion for partial judgment on the pleadings filed by a convenience store franchisor and the landlord for a North Carolina location but allowed the franchisees, who allege that they were misclassified and were really employees, to proceed with their federal claim seeking unpaid overtime along with a claim for national origin discrimination (Amro Elsayed, et al. v. Family Fare LLC, et al., No. 18-1045, M.D. N.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27064).
PHOENIX — A settlement agreement in an Arizona federal class lawsuit over motel guest lists being voluntarily turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents by Motel 6 Operating L.P. and G6 Hospitality LLC, doing business as Motel 6, that provides up to $10 million was granted final approval on Feb. 18 over protests by the Arizona attorney general who argued in a Feb. 6 amicus brief that the settlement provided the majority of the settlement funds to cy pres recipients (Jane V., et al. v. Motel 6 Operating L.P., et al., No. 18-242, D. Ariz.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on Feb. 5 refused to consolidate and centralize 21 lawsuits brought by sex trafficking victims against a number of different hotel owners, franchisors and franchisees under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA), finding that unique issues regarding each plaintiff’s allegations predominate and that there is no common defendant across all of the lawsuits (In re: Hotel Industry Sex Trafficking Litigation, MDL 2928, JPMDL, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19882).
CHICAGO — In-home care franchisees breached their franchise agreements, a federal judge in Illinois held Feb. 11, rejecting the franchisees’ fraudulent inducement defense and entering a permanent injunction preventing them from operating their business (BrightStar Franchising LLC v. Northern Nevada Care, Inc., et al., No. 17-9213, N.D. Ill., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23209).