Franchise and Distribution

Franchise and Distribution


Over the last two decades, Schiff Hardin’s nationally recognized franchise and distribution team has achieved a track record of success in difficult lawsuits and arbitrations. We understand the business issues our clients face, and we combine that insight with deep experience in franchise and dealership issues and a high level of courtroom skills. We deploy creative and efficient litigation strategies that have both protected our clients’ rights and achieved their business goals.

  • Experience

    National Experience

    Our work is nationwide. We have defended high-profile cases coast to coast, representing clients in the state and federal courts of California, New York, Washington state, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, New York and other venues.  

    We have successfully represented major distribution and franchise systems in industries that range from hospitality, timeshare and real estate brokerage to consumer products, including appliances, food, beverage, furniture care and personal care. We have obtained favorable verdicts, judgments, arbitration awards and other resolutions across the country on a wide variety of claims with system-wide implications. We also help our clients avoid and resolve litigation, whether on a classwide or an individual basis. Our work has helped our clients meet the challenges of consumer class actions as well as individual suits regarding terminations, system changes, contract rights, trademark and trade dress protections, and data privacy.

    Our clients include nationally known manufacturers and franchisors, including Wyndham, Ramada, Howard Johnson, Days Inns, Super 8, Coldwell Banker, Century 21, EagleRider, and Keller Williams, as well as manufacturers and distribution systems such as Valspar, and Unilever.

    Members of our team have received national recognition from Chambers, Leading Lawyers and other rating groups, including a designation of “Franchise Lawyer of the Year.” Our lawyers have held leadership positions with organizations including the ABA Forum on Franchising, serving on its Governing Committee, Litigation and Dispute Resolution Steering Committee, and Publications Committee. Team members teach nationally and at law schools including Northwestern and Michigan, on topics ranging from trial advocacy to antitrust law. We write and speak regularly on franchise and distribution topics at conferences sponsored by the ABA, the International Franchise Association, and other major franchise and distribution groups and associations.

    Our successful representations of clients in franchise and distribution cases include:   

    • Caudill, et al. v. Keller Williams Realty, Inc., Case No. 13 cv 04693 (ND IL 2015) (Kocoras, J.) - Keller Williams Realty, Inc. defeated a breach of contract claim brought by a former franchisee and its principal, on the grounds that the liquidated damages provision was an unenforceable penalty, and plaintiffs had established no actual damages.
    • Reid v. Unilever United States, et al., Case No. 12-cv-06058 (ND IL 2015). After issuing a final approval order approving a nationwide class settlement, the District Court reduced class counsel’s $3.4 million fee demand by $1.9 million.
    • Jordan v. Dominicks’ Finer Foods, et al., Case No. 10 C 00407 (ND IL 2015) - The Schiff Hardin trial team obtained a jury verdict of $8.9 million in favor of Michael Jordan, and against grocery chains Dominick’s and Safeway, enforcing our client’s publicity rights.
    • Egleston, et al. v. Valspar, Case No. 15 cv 4130 (SDNY 10/13/15) (Cote, J.) The District Court denied plaintiff’s motion to remand, and granted Valspar’s motion to dismiss a state-wide New York class action.
    • Crook, et al. v. Wyndham Vacation Ownership, et al. (N.D. CA 2014) – We successfully moved to compel arbitration of a putative class action, and obtained dismissal of Ninth Circuit appeal on jurisdictional grounds.
    • Briede, et al v. Valspar (E.D.MI 2014) – After briefing and argument on class certification issues, we successfully negotiated an Agreed Order of Judgment to resolve this putative nationwide class claim on an individual basis.
    • Keller v. Hilton (S.D. IL 2013) – After defeating the plaintiff franchisee’s motion for a temporary restraining order, we defended and successfully resolved the counterclaims arising from this franchise termination.
    • Howard Johnson International v. M.D. 1 LLC (N.D. IL 2012) – Obtained summary judgment against former franchisee and guarantor, and defeated cross-motion for summary judgment.
    • Danforth & Associates v. Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC (W.D. WA 2012) – Court granted motion to dismiss Sherman Act claim brought by current franchisee, alleging conspiracy between another franchisee and the franchisor, as well as related Washington state claims.
    • Triomphe Partners, Inc. v. Realogy Corp. (S.D. NY 2012) – Received award of full attorneys’ fees and defeated petition to vacate arbitration award arising from dispute over international master franchise agreement.
    • Crestmoor One LLC et al. v. Wyndham Hotel Management, Inc. (Illinois Appellate Ct. 2011) – Court affirmed order compelling arbitration of dispute arising from breach of hotel management agreement, attornment agreement and note.
    • Wyndham Hotel Management v. Glenview Hotel Partners, LLC et al. (N.D. IL 2010) – Won summary judgment for management company/licensor in dispute regarding performance of hotel management agreement and note.
    • Kelleher v. EagleRider (N.D. IL. 2010) – Obtained favorable class-wide settlement for motorcycle rental franchisor on claims arising from alleged violations of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA).
    • Broderick v. Baymont Franchise Systems, Inc. (E.D. Mich. 2009) – Summary judgment granted in favor of franchisor and its parent company on claims for alleged FACTA violations based on a check-out receipt provided to plaintiff following his stay at a franchised hotel.
    • Muno v. Better Value Inns, et al. (Cir. Ct. of Lake County, Ill. 2009) – Obtained a favorable resolution of a third- party claim arising from a serious personal injury that occurred on the premises of a former franchisee of an affiliate of our client U.S. Franchise Systems, Inc., after moving to dismiss the claim against USFS on procedural and substantive grounds.
    • Monugian, et al., v. Desarollo Marina Vallarta S.A. de C.V., et al. (C.D. Cal. 2008) – Obtained dismissal of putative class action against timeshare exchange service and fifteen other defendants, alleging violations of state and federal law, including racketeering, fraud, false advertising, conspiracy and unfair business practices, among other violations of state and federal law, in view of Mexico forum selection clause.
    • Egli v. Days Inns Worldwide (Cir. Ct. of Cook County, Ill. 2008) – Summary judgment in favor of franchisor on substantial negligence claims brought by a hotel guest against the franchisee and franchisor.
  • Awards & Honors

    • U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” – National Tier 1
      • Franchise Law (2012-2022)
    • U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” – Metropolitan Tier 1
      • Franchise Law, Chicago (2013-2022)