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Franchise Renewal Season is Upon Us - Again

By Chuck Modell, Sawan Patel and Jill Henson

January is the month that most franchisors start thinking about having to renew their franchise disclosure documents (“FDDs”). It is also an opportunity to update your franchise agreement. Unfortunately, too many franchisors see the renewal process as a necessary evil to complete as quickly and inexpensively as possible. As a result, they miss the opportunity to update their franchise agreement to address changes in the law in the last year, as well as changes in technology or the franchisor’s operations, or even changes in the franchisor’s goals and objectives. We also find that franchisors who go through the renewal process too quickly tend to wind up, over the years, with a more lengthy, confusing, and often incorrect FDD because they tend to focus on supplementing old disclosures, rather than updating them..

Anti-Poaching Clauses Continue to Draw Focus of State Regulators and Plaintiffs’ Lawyers

Henry Pfutzenreuter

On December 20th, the Washington State Attorney General announced that it had reached agreements with another seven franchisors to eliminate anti-poaching clauses from their franchise agreements, joining 39 others who signed similar agreements with the state earlier in the year. On December 4th, Papa John’s became the latest franchisor to be sued in a class action alleging that its franchise agreement’s anti-poaching clause violated antitrust laws. In the latter half of 2018, at least three courts permitted similar claims to survive motions to dismiss. These enforcement and litigation trends are likely to continue in 2019. With renewal season quickly approaching, franchisors who still have anti-poaching clauses in their franchise agreements should take action to remove them from their agreements.

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News & Events

Larkin Hoffman was named a “Best Law Firm” by U.S. News – Best Lawyers in its recently published list for 2019 and the Firm’s franchise practice received national recognition and was ranked in the first tier regionally. The rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes thousands of clients, highly skilled lawyers, and law firm representatives.

Chuck Modell, Joe Fittante, Jim Susag, and Susan Tegt were named as 2019 Best Lawyers® in the area of Franchise Law. Best Lawyers® is the world’s most selective and highly-regarded directory of attorneys and inclusion is based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review process comprised of evaluations by top attorneys.

The same cast was also selected to the 2018 Minnesota Super Lawyers list, with Chuck Modell, Joe Fittante, and Jim Susag, being recognized as Super Lawyers, and Susan Tegt and Henry Pfutzenreuter as a Rising Stars, all in the area of franchise/dealership. Super Lawyers annually rates outstanding lawyers in many practice areas based on peer recognition and professional achievement. Only a small percentage of practitioners in Minnesota are selected each year.

Joe Fittante’s article, The five characteristics of a highly successful franchisee, was published in the November/December edition of Upsize magazine.

Chuck Modell spoke at the North American Securities Administrators Association franchise training session, presenting a workshop, along with Karen Satterlee, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of Hilton Hotels, entitled “Franchise Agreement Provisions: A Need to Protect the System and Other Franchisees – or Unreasonable Burdens on New Franchisees?” The training session for state franchise examiners was held in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 29, 2018.  

Susan Tegt presented an intensive session entitled, “The Most Common Post-Relationship Disputes,” at the American Bar Association’s 41st Forum on Franchising in Nashville, Tennessee from October 10–12, 2018.

Community Service

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Larkin Hoffman will assemble for the firm’s fifth annual MLK Jr. Day of Service. This year, Larkin Hoffman will volunteer with Bridging, ‎Inc., the largest non-profit furniture bank in the United States, providing quality, donated furniture and household items to ‎people transitioning out of homelessness, poverty, and other difficult circumstances. Larkin Hoffman attorneys, staff, and family members will help load and unload trucks, sort through donated goods, inspect linens, and restock shelves for client shopping. In October, 2018, Larkin Hoffman was again proud to be a sponsor of the Gala for the Benefit of Bridging, which raised over $560,000 to continue its mission of “furnishing homes with hope.”

On November 11, 2018, a team of ten Larkin Hoffman employees and friends prepared and served dinner for residents of The Richard M. Schulze Family American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Minneapolis. The Hope Lodge provides free lodging and other services for cancer patients who are undergoing treatment in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, along with their caregivers. The team served a hot, made from-scratch meal to approximately 50 guests staying at the Lodge, and hopes to make this event a new Larkin Hoffman tradition. In addition to the Hope Lodge event, Larkin Hoffman attorneys and staff are involved in a variety of other fundraising initiatives benefitting the American Cancer Society.        

Winter 2019 Issue

Our Professionals



Charles Modell, CFE


Joseph Fittante, Jr.

Mark Robertson

James Susag

William Thornton


Susan Tegt


Sawan Patel

Inga Schuchard


Bryan Huntington

Henry Pfutzenreuter, editor



Jill Henson

Jan Jahn

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Larkin Hoffman provides counsel to a wide variety of ‎organizations, from ‎small businesses and nonprofits to  Fortune 500 companies, in ‎many areas of practice including ‎corporate and governance matters, litigation, real ‎estate, government relations, labor and employment, intellectual property, ‎information technology, ‎franchising and taxation. The firm also serves the needs of individuals in many ‎areas ‎including trusts and estates, personal injury and family law.


This newsletter is provided as a service to our clients and firm associates. While the information provided in this newsletter is believed to be accurate, it is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.