ERIE, Pa. — Six days after a Wyoming couple announced their intention to dismiss Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) claims against a rent-to-own (RTO) franchisor over computer spyware, the plaintiffs and the franchisor on Sept. 16 jointly responded to an objection by a franchisee, who was not a party to the stipulation, telling a Pennsylvania federal court that there is “no live dispute” between them due to a confidential settlement (Crystal Byrd, et al. v. Aaron’s Inc., et al., No. 1:11-cv-00101, W.D. Pa.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 6 upheld the denial of a motion filed by Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc. to compel arbitration of a franchisee’s breach of contract dispute because the parties never executed a franchise operating agreement that governed the operation of a restaurant (Campbell Investments LLC, et al. v. Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc., No. 18-4055, 10th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 26980).
WILKESBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina judge on Aug. 23 released a redacted version of a ruling in which he found that a window franchisor engaged in numerous discovery infractions, notably repeated requests to claw back submitted documents, leading the judge to mostly grant motions by a group of franchisee plaintiffs to compel and to find asserted privileges waived in a lawsuit over alleged fraud and breach of contract related to their franchise agreements (Window World of Baton Rouge LLC, et al. v. Window World Inc., et al., Nos. 15 CVS 1 & 15 CVS 2, N.C. Super., Wilkes Co., 2019 NCBC LEXIS 54).
CONCORD, N.H. — In a personal injury lawsuit arising from a trip and fall at a restaurant, a federal judge in New Hampshire on Aug. 29 granted summary judgment to Burger King Corp., as franchisor and owner of the subject restaurant, on claims against it for negligence, vicarious liability for the negligent conduct of its agents and loss of consortium (Elizabeth Cram, et al. v. Burger King Corp., et al., No. 18-394, D. N.H., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147124).
ST. LOUIS — An attempt by franchisors H&R Block Inc. and H&R Block Tax Services LLC (collectively, H&R Block) to point to a form document it claims was the same one a former branch manager would have agreed to is insufficient to show that there was an arbitration agreement in effect, the former employee tells the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a Sept. 3 appellee brief arguing in support of a trial court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration in her Sherman Act class complaint (Melissa Ramsey, et al. v. H&R Block, Inc., et al., No. 19-2217, 8th Cir.).
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Finding no new factual or legal arguments, a Michigan federal judge on Aug. 23 declined to stay enforcement of a preliminary injunction preventing a former franchisee from continuing to operate four restaurants branded as Little Caesars pending an appellate court’s adjudication of the franchisee’s appeal (Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc., et al. v. Miramar Quick Service Restaurant Corp., et al., No. 18-10767, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143560).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an Aug. 28 reply brief supporting its petition for certiorari, Domino’s Pizza LLC tells the U.S. Supreme Court that a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling over the applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to websites and mobile apps is “Profoundly Important” and merits review in light of the high numbers of lawsuits filed in recent years regarding online accessibility, arguing that the circuit courts are split over the statute’s application in online contexts (Domino’s Pizza LLC v. Guillermo Robles, No. 18-1539, U.S. Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Aug. 26 granted final approval of a $3.7 million settlement to be paid by Jani-King of Philadelphia Inc., Jani-King Inc. and Jani-King International Inc. (collectively, Jani-King), ending more than a decade of litigation over the defendants’ franchise system that the plaintiffs claim caused them to be misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees (Pamela Myers, et al. v. Jani-King of Philadelphia, Inc., et al., No. 09-1738, E.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144929).
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California appeals panel on Aug. 27 held that a lower court erred in finding that an employment practices liability insurance policy’s wage-and-hour exclusion bars coverage for an underlying lawsuit brought against the owner and operator of more than 250 Pizza Hut and Wing Street restaurants, finding that many of the underlying allegations are potentially subject to coverage (Southern California Pizza Co., LLC v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London, No. G056243, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3, 2019 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5712).
PHOENIX — A federal judge in Arizona on Aug. 2 granted preliminary approval to an amended settlement agreement in an Arizona class lawsuit over 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 added an injunctive relief class to the settlement that totals up to $10 million (Jane V., et al. v. Motel 6 Operating L.P., et al., No. 18-242, D. Ariz.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A federal judge in Florida on July 25 administratively closed a trademark infringement lawsuit brought by a tax service franchisor based on a mediation report that indicated that the parties reached a settlement (JTH Tax, Inc., et al. v. Jesus Abikarram, et al., No. 19-60328, S.D. Fla.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 21 requested a response to a petition seeking clarification of 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.).
OKLAHOMA CITY — The operators of a Burger King in Oklahoma will pay $30,000 to end a complaint by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for withdrawing a job offer for an applicant with an intellectual disability after learning that he would be accompanied to work by a job coach, according to a consent decree signed by a federal judge in Oklahoma on Aug. 21 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Northwest Petroleum, LP, et al., No. 18-703, W.D. Okla.).
DALLAS — A Texas state appellate panel on Aug. 13 ruled that a state trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of a plaintiff on defendants’ counterclaims for, among other things, trade secret misappropriation because the defendants failed to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists on the challenged elements of their trade secret misappropriation claim (Kenneth W. Morrison, et al. v. John D. Profanchik Sr., No. 05-17-01281-CV, Texas App., 5th Dist., 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 7089).
MIAMI — A franchisor’s request for a preliminary injunction barring a franchisee from operating a new, competing business in the same location as its former franchise was rejected Aug. 13 by a federal magistrate judge in Florida, who found that the franchisor “fails to justify” the relief it seeks (3 Natives Franchising LLC v. 3 Natives Stuart LLC, et al., No. 19-14093, S.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136631).
ATLANTA — Wyndham Hotel Group (WHG) franchisees filed a petition for rehearing en banc on Aug. 16, approximately three weeks after an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled that sales faxes sent to the hotels were solicited (Gorss Motels, Inc., et al. v. Safemark Systems, LP, Nos. 18-12511 & 18-15232, 11th Cir.).
SAN DIEGO — Pursuant to its franchise agreements, McDonald’s USA LLC had the first option to purchase eight California franchises for the price set out in a purchase and sale agreement (PSA), even though the franchisor declined to purchase other assets included in the PSA, a federal judge in California ruled Aug. 16, finding the other assets “outside the scope of the franchise agreements” (Tavarua Restaurants, Inc., et al. v. McDonald’s USA, LLC, No. 19-21, S.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139257).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to websites and mobile apps was a matter of first impression that did not create a circuit split, a blind man tells the U.S. Supreme Court in an Aug. 14 brief opposing a petition for certiorari by Domino’s Pizza LLC regarding related mandated accommodations (Domino’s Pizza LLC v. Guillermo Robles, No. 18-1539, U.S. Sup.).
CAMDEN, N.J. — A franchisee who sued 7-Eleven for breaching his franchise agreement must arbitrate claims related to vendor negotiating practices, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled Aug. 14, staying those claims and dismissing the others (Bassel Khorchid v. 7-Eleven, Inc., No. 18-8525, D. N.J., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137217).
NEW YORK — A franchisee application that contained an arbitration agreement and the franchisor’s consideration of that application constituted “sufficient consideration to support the agreement to arbitrate,” a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 14, vacating a trial court’s opposite conclusion in the franchisee’s racial bias lawsuit (Doctor’s Associates, Inc. v. Girum Alemayehu, No. 18-1865, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 24151).