In a case pending in the Northern District of Illinois, a court granted a motion to dismiss Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA) claims brought pertaining to two unbranded motor fuel stations. The court, however, refused to dismiss claims on the question of the validity of termination pursuant to the PMPA as to a third station. All three stations were supplied motor fuel by Lehigh Gas Wholesale, LP pursuant to supply agreements executed with each of the locations. One station sold Marathon-branded fuel and it was undisputed that the PMPA applied to that supply agreement. The two other stations were supplied unbranded motor fuel and did not have authorization to sell under any third-parties’ trademark.
After repeated delays, the compliance deadline for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new federal menu labeling rules — requiring disclosure of nutrition information for standard menu items — is set for May 7, 2018. After repeatedly being postponed, the FDA announced that the rules will not be postponed any longer and will be enforced as of that date.
The enforceability of class action waivers in arbitration provisions has been debated for years in courts across the country, including in several cases before the United States Supreme Court. This week, Congress weighed in on the ongoing debate.
A recent decision in California highlights that retailers’ practice of collecting zip codes continues to be challenged. California’s Second District Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in a case brought as a class action against Chevron and other motor fuel retailers alleging violation of California’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act for the collection of customers’ zip codes in conjunction with credit card transactions at gasoline stations.
Last month, the Fourth Circuit affirmed a ruling that North Carolina’s Ethanol Blending Statute is not preempted by the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (“PMPA”) or federal renewable fuel program. The case was remanded for findings on whether the statute is preempted by the Lanham Act.
This month, Delaware passed a law to clarify that the franchisor/franchisee relationship is not an employment relationship. The law applies to relationships that are defined as a franchise under the Federal Trade Commission franchise rule.
As we previously discussed, some states - including Delaware now - are adopting legislation to clarify that franchises are independent contractors. These laws come in the wake of cases that find franchisees to have an employment relationship.
The bill that would have modified liquor franchise law in Missouri never made it out of the legislature. The bill, which we have followed in a number of blog posts, was passed in the House in the form of Senate Bill 114, but was never voted on in the Senate before the Missouri legislative session ended this month.
The Second Circuit held that two trial franchisees properly asserted an action under the PMPA when their franchisor failed to comply with the notice provisions under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (“PMPA”) prior to terminating their franchises.
This week the Missouri House passed the proposed legislation that would modify the definition of a liquor franchise under Missouri law. Click here to read our previous posts on this potential modification to Missouri franchise law.
The bill that was passed this week by the House was not the existing bill pending (HB 759), but instead provisions were incorporated into another bill pertaining to home brewed liquors (SB 114). The amended SB 114 that was passed by the House would modify current Missouri franchise law to remove the trademark and community of interest in the marketing of goods or services requirements as to liquor wholesalers and suppliers, and expressly reject the holding in Missouri Beverage Co., Inc. v. Shelton Brothers, Inc. by the United States District Court for the Western District and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and note that the law “was not correctly interpreted” in that case.
Last year, a related bill was passed to make these changes, but was vetoed by the Governor.
SB 114 (with amendments) is now pending in the Missouri Senate.
The Missouri legislature is again considering modifying the definition of a "franchise" under Missouri law. Specifically, with regard to alcohol wholesalers and suppliers, the modification would eliminate the requirement of a trade name, trademark, or service mark and a community of interest to be a franchise under Missouri law. The current bills follow the same attempt to amend Missouri law in 2012. The bills are Missouri Senate Bill 365 and Missouri House Bill 759.
For more information about the proposed bills, contact a member of Greensfelder's Franchise & Distribution Group.