Franchise Laws and Diageo’s Recent Distributor Termination Action in Missouri
We usually see this alleged “breach of franchise agreement” used as the basis for a counter-claim by the purchaser of our client’s wine. Typically, XYZ Winery sells its wine to a retail establishment in a franchise state, which then doesn’t pay for the wine. When our client sues the purchaser in California state court, the purchaser counter sues for breach of the alleged franchise agreement, and will sometimes remove the case to federal court. The purchaser will then use the cost of litigation of its counter-claim to negotiate a discount on the amount owed, or a complete “walk-away” settlement.
In a recent Missouri case, however, Diageo sued its distributor in the state to terminate its distribution agreement. Diageo argues thatMissouri state law should not apply to the two distribution contracts in question. Diageo relies on language in its distribution contract with Major Brands that states that the contract’s terms are to be governed by Connecticut law for certain products, and New York law for certain other products. In the alternative, Diageo argues that it has good cause to terminate the agreement should Missouri law apply, claiming that Major Brands failed to devote sufficient resources to the promotion of Diageo’s products, among other things.
We will be watching this case and will report on its outcome.