Segal McCambridge Attorneys Win Dismissal of Client from Case on Duty of Care Issue


September 15, 2010

Segal McCambridge shareholder Catherine Goldhaber and associate Anna Gonis won a dismissal on behalf of an international hotel chain from a case in which the plaintiffs had sought damages from our client based upon its relationship as franchisor to a hotel at which the plaintiff had been a guest. In granting the motion to dismiss, the judge ruled that the plaintiffs had not shown that the franchisor/franchisee relationship established a duty of care on the part of the franchisor vis-a-vis the franchisee's hotel guest. "In Illinois," the judge wrote, "for a duty to arise a franchisor must have asserted more direct control over the franchisee's operations than setting standards and monitoring the franchisee to ensure that it maintains the level of quality to protect its trademark." The judge found nothing in the plaintiffs' pleadings to show evidence of such a level of control.

The plaintiffs argued that they needed discovery to determine whether the client had such a relationship with the franchisee, but the judge was unimpressed. CitingAshcroft v. Iqbal, the judge wrote, "Rule 8 does not set a high standard for pleading in a complaint, but it also...does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.'"

The complaint against our client was dismissed with prejudice.