CAMDEN, N.J. — A New Jersey federal judge on March 13 rejected parent corporations’ argument that a plaintiff has alleged a retaliation claim only against their subsidiary, finding that the parent corporations could potentially be found to be her employers under Third Circuit precedent (Stephanie Cunningham v. Executive Care of Cherry Hill, et al., No. 17-2261, D. N.J., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41967).
ATLANTA — A Georgia appeals panel on March 8 held that a lower court erred in finding that a car dealership franchisor exercising its right of first refusal (ROFR) is required to show that its actions are not arbitrary and that the proposed transferee is unfit or unqualified, reversing and remanding the lower court’s grant of an interlocutory injunction against the franchisor (Nissan North America, Inc. v. Walker-Jones Nissan, LLC, No. A17A2018, Ga. App., 5th Div., 2018 Ga. App. LEXIS 171).
BALTIMORE — A beer distributor says in a Feb. 16 motion for summary judgment filed in Maryland state court that there is no dispute that Pabst Brewing Co. LLC violated the Beer Franchise Fair Dealing Act (BFFDA) when terminating a distribution agreement without cause (Frederick P. Winner Ltd. v. Pabst Brewing Co. LLC, No. 03-CV-15-004824, Md. Cir., Baltimore Co.).
EL PASO, Texas — A Texas federal judge on March 1 declined to dismiss or transfer a wage collective action against a Jimmy John’s franchisee, finding that the lead plaintiff’s participation in a separate consolidated collective action bringing similar claims against various Jimmy John’s corporate entities did not bar his claims against the franchisee (Eric Hart v. Donostia LLC, No. 17-134, W.D. Texas, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35503).
LINCOLN, Neb. — A Nebraska federal judge on March 6 granted a franchisor’s motion for preliminary injunction seeking to enforce covenants not to compete contained in franchise agreements for two of its nutritional supplement retail stores (Complete Nutrition Franchising, LLC, et al. v. J. Howell, LLC, et al., No. 17-3170, D. Neb., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36283).
ABERDEEN, Miss.— A Mississippi federal judge on March 5 found that none of the evidence cited by a franchisee supports a jury’s $250,000 compensatory damages verdict in its favor in a dispute with a franchisor, ordering a new trial on the issue of compensatory and punitive damages (Kaiva, LLC v. Michael Parker, et al., No. 15-63, N.D. Miss., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35036).
MIAMI — Ruling on dueling summary judgment motions in a breach of contract, trademark infringement and unfair competition action between a franchisor and a franchisee, a Florida federal judge on Feb. 28 awarded the franchisor profits, any damages it sustained and the costs of the lawsuit and $10,275.36 for breach of contract (Peterbrooke Franchising of America, LLC v. Miami Chocolates, LLC, et al., No. 16-20417, S.D. Fla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31977).
MIAMI — A Florida federal judge on Feb. 27 granted a motor vehicle manufacturer’s motion to dismiss with prejudice a motor vehicle dealership’s lawsuit alleging fraudulent concealment, fraudulent inducement and unfair and deceptive trade practices (Broward Motorsports of Palm Beach, LLC v. Polaris Sales, Inc., No. 17-81100, S.D. Fla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31376).
BEAUFORT, N.C. — A North Carolina judge on Feb. 21 granted in part a franchisor’s motion for a preliminary injunction in its dispute with a longtime franchisee, finding that the issuance of the injunction is necessary to protect the franchisor’s rights during the lawsuit (Window Gang Ventures, Corp. v. Gabriel Salinas, et al., No. 18 CVS 107, N.C. Super., Carteret Co., 2018 NCBC LEXIS 18).
PITTSBURGH — Franchisees who brought counterclaims against General Nutrition Corp. (GNC) for various antitrust violations have pleaded sufficient facts to survive a motion for dismissal, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Feb. 26 (General Nutrition Corporation v. Choudhry S. Javaid, et al., No. 17-1074, W.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30154).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Feb. 26 issued a one-page order vacating its decision on Dec. 14, 2017, in which the split labor board overruled Browning-Ferris Industries, 362 NLRB No. 186 (2015), and reinstated the joint-employer standard in place before that decision, finding that one NLRB member should have been disqualified from participating in the decision making (Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors, Ltd. and Brandt Construction Co., et al., Nos. 25–CA–163189, 25–CA–163208, 25–CA–163297, 25–CA–163317, 25–CA–163373, 25–CA–163376, 25–CA–163398, 25–CA–163414, 25–CA–164941, and 25–CA–164945, NLRB).
NEW ORLEANS— A commercial cleaning franchisor told the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan 26 that it should uphold a federal judge in Texas’ ruling awarding it summary judgment, contending that it presented sufficient evidence to show that a region franchise in Great Britain breached the terms of their agreement after failing to pay required fees (Jani-King Franchising Inc. v. Jani-King [GB] Ltd., et al., No. 3:13-cv-0413, 5th Cir.).
PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota Supreme Court on Feb. 14, in its second consideration of the same case, ruled that the trial court erred in its jury instructions on consequential damages and the foreseeability of a fuel supplier’s lost profits to a convenience store owner and ordered a new trial on damages for lost profits (Stern Oil Company, Inc. v. James V. Brown, et al., No. 27937, S.D. Sup., 2018 S.D. 15).
SAN JOSE, Calif. —A federal judge in California on Feb. 20 denied a motion to dismiss a franchise dispute involving two restaurants because the plaintiffs’ amended complaint “adequately alleges” a threat of imminent use of a trademark that would constitute infringement (Jgx Inc. v. Jon Handlery, et al., No. 17-cv-00287-BLF, N.D. Calif.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27079).
MOBILE, Ala. — A federal judge in Alabama on Feb. 21 remanded a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise suit to state court, finding that the franchisor did not prove that it had a bad faith claim and, therefore, that removal was not timely (McAdam Properties LLC v. Dunkin’ Donuts Franchising LLC, et al., No. 2:17-CV-2088-VEH, S.D. Ala., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27510).
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on Feb. 20 held that a consumer who claims that a tax preparation company, its franchisee and other entities manipulated tax returns and submitted them to the Internal Revenue Service without tax payers' consent has sufficiently alleged a theory of direct fraud by the franchisor and its subsidiary (Luis Lomeli v. Jackson Hewitt, Inc., et al., No 17-02899, C.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27087).
NEW YORK — The formation of a new company to cut out a partial owner of a franchisor who operated only as a passive investor constituted breach of fiduciary duty, a New York state judge ruled Feb. 13, granting partial summary judgment for the silent partner and directing the parties to continue settlement discussions (John Stavroulakis v. Euripides Pelakanos, et al., No. 653478/2015, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2018 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 429).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A man accused of violating his franchise lease agreements (FLAs) with H&R Block Tax Services LLC was barred by a federal judge in Missouri Feb. 16 from soliciting or conducting any work within 25 miles of the franchise territories that is similar to H&R Block and ordered to cease operation of a tax preparation business in West Haven, Conn., until September 2019 (H&R Block Tax Services LLC v. Juan Frias, No. 18-00053-CV-RK, W.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25667).
HELENA, Mont. — A trial court judge did not err in affirming a decision from the Montana Department of Justice, Motor Vehicle Division, that barred the Chrysler Group LLC (New Chrysler) from opening a second Chrysler-Jeep franchise in the town of Billings, a panel of the Montana Supreme Court ruled Feb. 13, holding that the franchisor failed to establish good cause under the Montana Dealer Act (Rimrock Chrysler Inc., et al. v. State of Montana Department of Justice, Motor Vehicle Division, et al., No. 17-0284, Mont. Sup., 2018 Mont. LEXIS 28).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A federal bankruptcy judge in Delaware on Feb. 13 granted a motion to dismiss a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding filed by a creditor, concluding that the bankruptcies of two management companies “were not filed in good faith” and the franchise agreement between the companies and a creditor could not be rejected (In re: Rent-A-Wreck of America Inc., No. 11592, Ch. 11, Del Bkcy., 2018 Bankr. LEXIS 406).