STATESVILLE, N.C. — When corporate franchisees sold their business assets years before their owner filed a dispute with a window supplier, they sold their fraud claims, a North Carolina federal judge held March 25, granting summary judgment to Window World Inc. (Mike Bendfeldt, et al. v. Window World, Inc., No. 17-39, W.D. N.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52015).
MIAMI — Without sufficient allegations that Burger King Corp. and its franchisees “are separate economic actors for antitrust purposes,” a federal judge in Florida on March 24 dismissed employees’ antitrust lawsuit against the hamburger fast food chain and its franchisees (Jarvis Arrington, et al. v. Burger King Worldwide, Inc., et al., No. 18-24128, S.D. Fla.).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A federal judge in Connecticut on March 19 refused to reconsider his denial of summary judgment to Sprint Solutions Inc. on a motel’s federal law claims under the Junk Fax Prevention Act over unsolicited fax advertisements (Gorss Motels Inc. v. Sprint Communications Company, L.P. et al., No. 17-546, D. Conn., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47592).
MIAMI — A federal judge in Florida on Feb. 21 transferred a franchise referral company’s breach of contract and unjust enrichment lawsuit to a Colorado federal court because the court lacks general and specific personal jurisdiction (The Franchise Consulting Company, Inc. v. Crestcom International, LLC, No. 19-22216, S.D. Fla., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31391).
PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania federal judge on March 4 awarded $159,566.78 to 7-Eleven Inc. on its breach of contract and breach of guaranty counterclaims against a former franchisee (Anthony Chong, et al. v. 7-Eleven, Inc., 18-1542, E.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39402).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Allegations that Best Western International Inc. and its hotel franchisee were aware of sex trafficking occurring on their properties may proceed, a federal judge in Ohio ruled March 16, denying motions to dismiss brought by the hotels (Jane Doe S.W. v. Lorain-Elyria Motel, Inc., et al., No. 19-1194, S.D. Ohio, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44961).
JONESBORO, Ark. — A federal judge in Arkansas on March 13 denied an unopposed motion by a Domino’s Pizza franchisee with locations in Arkansas and Missouri to file a wage collective and class settlement that it reached with delivery drivers under seal and directed the parties to file unredacted documents within 10 days on the public docket if they wish to continue with the settlement (James Ewing v. Pizza Czar Inc., et al., No. 19-232, E.D. Ark., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43617).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Allegations of breach of contract and violations of a state franchise law by a countertop fabricator and seller against a popular quartz countertop maker will not proceed in Michigan, a federal judge ruled March 13 (Lakeside Surfaces Inc. v. Cambria Company LLC, No. 18-110, W.D. Mich., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43727).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust Ltd. filed a notice of appeal on March 13, just over a week after a federal judge in Connecticut denied its motion to compel arbitration in a class complaint alleging that it sent unwanted text messages in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) (Marina Soliman v. Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust Ltd., et al., No. 19-592, D. Conn.).
SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in California on March 12 entered a preliminary injunction barring arbitration proceedings in a federal court in Ohio between Matco Tools Corp. and two franchisees who complain that they are being wrongfully treated as independent contractors as opposed to employees, finding that the plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence of the likelihood of success on their argument that provisions in a distribution agreement between the parties may render it unenforceable (Emanuel Aguilera, et al. v. Matco Tools Corp., No. 19-01576, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43283).
NEW YORK — A federal magistrate judge in New York on Feb. 21 issued an expansive ruling in a franchise dispute between franchisees in Florida and Arizona against 1-800-Flowers.Com Inc. over agreements governing the sales of fruit bouquets, finding that there are genuine disputes regarding the New York State Franchise Sales Act (FSA), breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and Arizona Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) (Arizona Family Florists LLC, et al. v. 1-800-Flowers.Com Inc., et al., No. CV 16-2638, E.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31389).
ALBANY, N.Y. — A New York company that manages franchise companies providing limousine services has a sufficient employer-employee relationship with the drivers to be liable for unemployment insurance contributions, a New York appellate panel ruled Feb. 27, affirming a holding by the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board (In the Matter of the Claim of Levon Aleksanian, No. 529032, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 3rd Dept., 2020 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1438).
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).