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Franchise Cases Plentiful, Even Though Not Supreme



Franchise litigation didn’t rise to the level of the U.S. Supreme Court—which ended this year’s session this week in dramatic form, prompting this blog post. But attorneys are watching plenty of cases.

“There’s been no downturn in litigation over the past year,” said Bobbi Howell with Foley & Lardner, who presented a paper summarizing 300 franchise-related decisions in the last 12 months. “The law is nothing if not interesting.”

Howell and Gregg Rubenstein, of Nixon Peabody, presented their picks for most important cases at the International Franchise Association’s Legal Symposium earlier this spring. They grouped them into themes.

Arbitration is one major theme. “If there is a way for a court to compel arbitration, it will. Courts love arbitration,” Rubenstein said, adding a prediction. “As we get further away in time from those older contracts, we’ll get more and more contracts with express prohibitions on collective arbitration.”

Vicarious liability is another hot topic, they said, with at least 27 cases seeking to impose responsibility on franchisors for bad things that happen at franchisees’ locations. “All systems should be concerned by this trend,” Howell said.

Restrictive covenants make up a third theme, with 29 cases. Howell advised paying close attention to the wording of same. “When you draft, please please, please, when you write the word ‘termination,’ put in ‘expiration and termination,’ ” Howell said.


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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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