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Date: 09-26-2022

Case Style:

Pizza Inn, Inc. v. Fawzi Odetallah

Case Number: 21-cv-00322

Judge: Patrick R. Wyrick

Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma (Tulsa County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney:

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Description: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma civil litigation lawyers represented Plaintiff and Defendant in a breach of franchise agreement dispute.

In 2007, Pizza Inn and Mr. Odetallah entered into a franchise agreement (“2007 Franchise Agreement”), granting Mr. Odetallah a non-exclusive license to use Pizza Inn's proprietary trademarks in connection with the restaurant located at 2224 North 14th Street, Ponca City, Oklahoma 74601.[1] Pizza Inn claims it is the sole and exclusive owner of the trademarks, and Mr. Odetallah has not disputed this. In 2009, the parties renewed the

Franchise Agreement (“2009 Renewal Agreement”)[2] and entered into a new franchise agreement (“2009 Franchise Agreement”),[3] but the parties have contested the validity of these 2009 agreements. Believing their franchisor-franchisee relationship ended in July 2019 with the natural expiration of the 2009 Franchise Agreement, Pizza Inn sued Mr. Odetallah in April 2020 for breach of contract and trademark infringement when he continued using the trademarks beyond the July 2019 expiration. However, the parties subsequently entered into a joint settlement agreement (“Settlement Agreement”) in which Mr. Odetallah agreed to cease and desist from further use of the trademarks within thirty days of the entry of the Order of Dismissal, which was filed and entered on September 8, 2020.[4]

Ultimately, however, Mr. Odetallah continued operating the Ponca City restaurant, and Pizza Inn sued once again on April 12, 2021, on claims for breach of contract and trademark infringement. Mr. Odetallah brought counterclaims alleging breach of contract, fraud, duress, intentional misrepresentation, negligence, and coercion, ultimately seeking to void the 2009 Renewal Agreement and establish the 2007 Franchise Agreement as the controlling document. On December 16, 2021, the Court denied Pizza Inn's motion for a preliminary injunction (Dkt. 18).

On February 28, 2022, counsel for Pizza Inn sent Mr. Odetallah and his counsel a notice of deficiencies and demand for cure (“Deficiency Letter”).[5] In the Deficiency Letter, counsel for Pizza Inn outlined all deficiencies associated with Mr. Odetallah's operation of the Pizza Inn restaurant in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Further, the Deficiency Letter stated that, if Mr. Odetallah did not cure the deficiencies within thirty days of his counsel receiving the Deficiency Letter, Pizza Inn would exercise its right to terminate the franchise agreement. After Mr. Odetallah did not cure the alleged deficiencies as outlined in the Deficiency Letter, Pizza Inn sent a notice of termination to Mr. Odetallah on April 13, 2022 (“Termination Letter”).[6]

Pizza Inn's Amended Complaint (Dkt. 42), filed on April 20, 2022, advances eight claims against Mr. Odetallah: (1) trademark infringement; (2) breach of the Franchise Agreement (2007 and 2009 Franchise Agreements); (3) breach of the Renewal Agreement; (4) fraudulent inducement; (5) intentional misrepresentation; (6) fraud; (7) negligent misrepresentation; and (8) breach of the Settlement Agreement. Mr. Odetallah's Amended Counterclaim (Dkt. 33) brings several counterclaims against Pizza Inn (Dkt. 33), including (1) breach of contract, (2) fraud, (3) conversion, and (4) negligence. Now, in its Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 54), Pizza Inn seeks summary judgment on two of its claims- its trademark infringement and breach of contract claims-against Mr. Odetallah, as well summary judgment in Pizza Inn's favor with respect to all Mr. Odetallah's counterclaims.

Outcome: Motion granted in part and denied in part.

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