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Chicago Tribune Reports on Litigation Arising Out of Bankruptcy of Giordano’s Pizza Franchisor

The Chicago Tribune has recently reported on two lawsuits arising out of the bankruptcy of the franchisor for the Giordano’s pizza chain.

In one suit the bankruptcy trustee has sued franchisee for failing to use the the required pizza dough thus allegedly harming the quality and uniformity of Giordano’s pizzas. This type of lawsuit often arises in the franchise setting the article explains. The article states:

It’s common, especially in the restaurant business, for a franchisor to dictate suppliers in their franchise agreements.

“If a customer does not receive essentially the same product, same quality and same experience, the brand image is tarnished and the customer less likely to patronize the franchise in the future,” said Christian Burden, a Quarles & Brady LLP partner focusing on disputes involving distributors and franchises. “To use the quintessential example of the Big Mac, from the franchisor’s perspective, a Big Mac in Chicago must taste and appear generally the same as a Big Mac in Los Angeles, Toronto, Brazil, and so on.”

But it’s also not unheard of for franchisees such as those at Giordano’s to look for alternative sourcing. …

You can read the full article by clicking here.

The other Tribune article details a lawsuit filed by the former Giordano’s franchisor claiming that the franchisor’s lender-banks, former lawyers and other franchisees conspired to rob them of the business. You can view a copy of the complaint in this lawsuit by clicking here. The article describes the lawsuit’s claims as follows:

The lawsuit said that the men enlisted Fifth Third Bank, Giordano’s chief lender, as well as Chicago lawyer Michael Gesas and several Giordano’s franchisees “to participate in the scheme” in which they’d push the Apostolous out and take over the company. Secret meetings were held from September 2010 to February 2011, the lawsuit said. Gesas didn’t respond to a request for comment.

First, they intended to weaken the Chicago-based deep dish pizza chain financially, the suit said. Then, the Apostolous “were fraudulently induced” into signing agreements in August 2010 and October 2010 that worsened their lending terms with Fifth Third, which is owed more than $40 million in the bankruptcy.

Fifth Third threatened to “throw the family in the street” if they didn’t go along with the new terms, the lawsuit said. Aynessazian, who also owns eight Giordano’s franchises, Roche and Gesas made “material omissions” to the Apostolous and failed to represent the interests of the Glenview family, the suit said.

Before the execution of the October 2010 deal with Fifth Third, Apostolou had a heart attack, leaving him even more dependent on his lawyers and Aynessazian. The stress also prompted him to see a psychiatrist, the lawsuit said.

“The final step of the scheme involved seizing control of (Giordano’s) by pressuring the Apostolous into filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy by which the assets and value of (Giordano’s) could be usurped for the benefit of Fifth Third, and the Apostolous’ ownership interests could be purchased at a materially deflated price for the benefit of the franchisee takeover group,” the lawsuit said.

You can read the full article by clicking here.


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