People sitting at table having a meeting

Franchise & Distribution Litigation

Over the last two decades, ArentFox Schiff’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.


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, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming, 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 have included nationally known manufacturers and franchisors, including major hotel companies, real estate brokerage franchisors, and restaurant franchisors, , as well as manufacturers and distribution systems for household goods and consumer products.

Members of our team have received repeated 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, DRI, the International Franchise Association, and other major franchise and distribution groups and associations.

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

  • For a major regional restaurant franchisor, we negotiated a favorable resolution to a contractual dispute and preliminary injunction issues (ND IL 2022)
  • The ArentFox Schiff team obtained a favorable settlement for a major hotel franchise system in a lawsuit alleging vicarious liability for serious injuries at a franchised location. (2022)
  • For a major regional restaurant franchisor, we negotiated a favorable resolution to a contractual dispute with a subfranchisor.  (2021)
  • The ArentFox Schiff team obtained a favorable settlement for a major hotel franchise system in a lawsuit alleging vicarious liability for criminal conduct at a franchised location. (2018)
  • Caudill, et al. v. Keller Williams Realty, Inc., 828 F.3d 575 (7th Cir. 2016) – Both in the District Court and on appeal, our client Keller Williams Realty, Inc. defeated a multi-million dollar breach of contract claim brought by a former employee and franchisee, demonstrating that plaintiffs could not establish liability in the absence of actual damages, and confirming that a liquidated damages provision was an unenforceable penalty under applicable Texas law.
  • Reid v. Unilever United States, et al., appealed as Martin v. Reid, et al, (7th Cir. 2016)  After denying liability, Unilever reached a nationwide class settlement of the underlying consumer products claims, leading to a final approval order in the District Court, affirmed by the Seventh Circuit after two objectors appealed. After detailed briefing, the District Court ultimately 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 ArentFox Schiff 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) - 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, on an individual basis, of a claim brought as 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) – We obtained summary judgment for our client against former a franchisee and guarantor, and defeated cross-motion for summary judgment.
  • Danforth & Associates v. Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC (W.D. WA 2012) – Court granted our client’s motion to dismiss a Sherman Act claim brought by a current franchisee, who had alleged a conspiracy between another franchisee and the franchisor, as well as related Washington state claims.
  • Triomphe Partners, Inc. v. Realogy Corp. (S.D. NY 2012) – Our client received an award of full attorneys’ fees and defeated petition to vacate arbitration award arising from dispute over international master franchise agreement.

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)

Key Contacts