Providence, RI, Senior U.S. District Judge Ronald R. Lagueux on Wednesday gave his oral judgment in favor of Dunkin’ Donuts defendants and adverse to Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee Irwin Barkan. Dismissing the jury on the seventh day of trial, he also granted Dunkin defendants’ oral motion to preclude the testimony of Barkan’s franchise valuation expert witness, Frank Torchio. Barkan has been fighting in court against the franchisor for five years after losing his six stores and his store development agreements to open new franchises. He claimed that Dunkin’ intentionally blocked his efforts to refinance his stores through CIT, even though Dunkin’ had agreed to the financial restructuring of his company.
Barkan asserts that Dunkin’s interference of the refinancing process forced him into bankruptcy with his stores, and that it was an intentional act by Dunkin’ to eliminate him from the system.The expert witness was to give evidence that Barkan would have made $13 million if he had received the refinancing and continued to open his additional stores. In recent years, Dunkin’ Brands has been accused of hardball tactics in terminating smaller franchisees, under the guise that they have breached their contracts. Franchise operators have alleged that they then sell the stores to large multi-unit operators of Dunkin’s choosing.
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