BALTIMORE — A federal judge in Maryland on Oct. 10 converted a temporary restraining order (TRO) to a preliminary injunction, barring a former franchisee from continued use of a franchisor’s trademarks while the parties’ breach of contract and infringement case proceeds (ICENY USA LLC v. M&M’s LLC, et al., No. 19-2418, D. Md., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176999).
DENVER — A 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel erred when it upheld the denial of a motion filed by a barbecue franchisor to compel arbitration of a franchisee’s breach of contract dispute, the franchisor, Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc., argues in a Sept. 20 petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc (Campbell Investments LLC, et al. v. Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc., No. 18-4055, 10th Cir.).
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Supreme Court on Sept. 19 held that a fair and reasonable price “is not inherently established” by the price that a franchisor obtains for a good and that the franchisor does not violate the state’s Franchise Investment Protection Act (FIPA) by selling the product or service to a franchisee “for twice the price at which the franchisor obtained it” (Money Mailer LLC v. Wade G. Brewer, No. 96304-5, Wash. Sup., 2019 Wash. LEXIS 585).
ATLANTA — An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel, in a Sept. 20 per curiam one-page order, denied a rehearing or rehearing en banc requested by Wyndham Hotel Group (WHG) franchisees after a panel ruled on July 26 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., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 28648).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A federal judge in Delaware on Oct. 9 dismissed with prejudice a putative class action filed against a tutoring and test preparation services franchisor, finding that because a prospective franchisee did not actually apply for financing credit, he lacked standing to allege a violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) (Herman Dhade, et al. v. Huntington Learning Centers, Inc., No. 17-1834, D. Del., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175251).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri federal judge on Oct. 16 denied motions to dismiss filed in one of two class complaints pending in Missouri and Illinois accusing the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and certain real estate broker franchisors of conspiring to require home sellers to pay inflated broker commissions in violation of the Sherman Act (Joshua Sitzer, et al. v. The National Association of Realtors, et al., No. 19-332, W.D. Mo.).
MIAMI — A Burger King franchisee when signing a franchise agreement also agreed to litigate any matters where there is federal jurisdiction within the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, a Florida federal judge ruled on Oct. 11, finding that the forum selection clause is enforceable and dismissing with prejudice the franchisee’s complaint seeking a declaration that it was invalid (Capital Restaurant Group, LLC v. Burger King Corporation, No. 19-22131, S.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176821).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A divided Ohio appeals panel on Sept. 30 ruled that a state trial court did not abuse its discretion in applying Ohio’s trade secrets act to find that a former employee of a boxing gym franchise and the gym he opened after the franchise closed misappropriated the franchise’s confidential and trade secret customer information when he accessed password-protected software to obtain its customer list to solicit customer business by email after the franchise ceased operations (MNM & MAK Enterprises LLC, et al. v. HIIT Fit Club LLC, et al., No. 18AP-980, Ohio App., 10th Dist., 2019 Ohio App. LEXIS 4076).
CHICAGO — A former pizza delivery driver who worked for two different Domino’s Pizza franchisees before bringing a collective and class action wage lawsuit on Oct. 9 moved for preliminary approval of a $807,500 settlement agreement with the franchisees (Samantha Young, et al. v. Rolling in the Dough, Inc., No. 17-7825, N.D. Ill.).
PHILADELPHIA — Allegations that a South Carolina hotel owner owned and franchised hotels in Pennsylvania do not show that the hotel owner is “essentially at home” in the state, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Oct. 9, dismissing a negligence case (Shirlyn B. Kurz v. Holiday Hospitality Franchising, LLC, et al., No. 19-2129, E.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175193).
SAN FRANCISCO — A cleaning service franchisor filed a petition on Oct. 8 seeking a panel rehearing or rehearing en banc 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.).
NEWARK, N.J. — In an age discrimination lawsuit, a federal judge in New Jersey on Sept. 30 refused to dismiss a franchisee’s breach of contract claim against McDonald’s USA LLC; however, the judge dismissed a claim for civil conspiracy and allegations of violations of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and New Jersey’s RICO Act from a scheme to overcharge on purchases made from an approved vendor (Sebastian E. Lentini, et. al. v. McDonald’s USA, et. al., No. 19-4596, D. N.J., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169180).
ROANOAKE, Va. — Franchisees who continued using their former franchisor’s trademarks after their franchise agreement was terminated must pay $3,094,066 in connection with the infringement, a Virginia federal judge ruled Sept. 30 (Choice Hotels International Inc. v. A Royal Touch Hospitality LLC, et al., No. 17-381, W.D. Va., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167904).
ERIE, Pa. — On Oct. 4, a Wyoming couple who sued a rent-to-own (RTO) franchisor and franchisee over the installation of spyware on their laptop jointly filed a brief with the franchisor, with whom they recently settled their claims, opposing the franchisee’s motion to compel production of the confidential settlement agreement, asserting that a settlement is irrelevant to any remaining claims and defenses in the case (Crystal Byrd, et al. v. Aaron’s Inc., et al., No. 1:11-cv-00101, W.D. Pa.).
GREENBELT, Md. — A federal judge in Maryland on Sept. 23 entered judgment by default in favor of a hotel franchisor against a former franchisee in the amount awarded by an arbitrator when the franchisee failed to pay certain contractual obligations following foreclosure (Choice Hotels International, Inc. v. Rahi Corp., et al., No. 18-2955, D. Md., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161683).
AKRON, Ohio — An Ohio federal judge on Oct. 2 confirmed an arbitration award in favor of a franchisor because the defendants involved in the dispute over a breach of a franchise agreement pertaining to the operation of adult day care service facilities previously agreed that the arbitration agreement was binding on them (Sarah Adult Day Services Inc. v. Beyda Adult Day Care Center LLC et al., No. 19-614, N.D. Ohio, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171125).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In its Oct. 7 order list, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to enter the debate over what obligations the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) imposes upon a website operator in terms of making a website accessible to people with disabilities, denying a petition for certiorari by Domino’s Pizza LLC in a lawsuit brought by a blind man (Domino’s Pizza LLC v. Guillermo Robles, No. 18-1539, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — McDonald’s Corp. and its subsidiaries aren’t a joint employer of franchised locations' workers and can’t be found liable for workers’ overtime claims, a split Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 1 (Guadalupe Salazar, et al. v. McDonald’s Corp., et al., No. 17-15673, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 29500).
TOLEDO, Ohio — A franchisor of gastropubs and its owner and manager violated the Ohio Business Opportunity Act (BOPA) by failing to attach a guarantee to a franchise agreement, an Ohio appeals panel held Sept. 30, reversing a lower court’s denial of summary judgment to a franchisee and grant of summary judgment to the franchisor (Burger Dynasty, Inc. v. Bar 145 Franchising, LLC, et al., No. L-19-1027, Ohio App., 6th Dist., 2019-Ohio-4006).
NEW ORLEANS — A former Taco Bell franchisee’s worker who alleges that he was fired for refusing to lie to get out of jury duty may proceed with his lawsuit as the trial court erred in finding that there was no private cause of action under the relevant Mississippi statute and in finding no genuine dispute of material fact, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled in a Sept. 27 per curiam opinion (Maxwell Simmons v. Pacific Bells, L.L.C., No. 19-60001, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 29231).