Should Domino's Be Held Accountable For Franchisee's Robocalls?

Where do you place the invisible line of responsibility that separates a national fast food company from the actions of its franchisees? That was the question facing a judge in Washington state, who found that Domino’s Pizza should not be held liable for the questionable telephone marketing employed by one of its franchisees.

In the proposed class-action suit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Tacoma, the plaintiffs had alleged that they had received “numerous calls… in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.”

The plaintiffs claimed that the calls were made without any prior consent having been given and that the pre-recorded message always identified the called as “Domino’s Pizza.”

Domino’s defense had been that the calls were made by a telemarketing firm hired by the local franchisee. However, the suit claims that the franchisee and the telemarketer came together at a national franchisee convention where Domino’s allowed the telemarketer to market its service to franchisees.

Additionally, the plaintiffs alleged that since Domino’s franchise agreement states that franchisees “agree to participate in all national and local and regional advertising,” then “Domino’s has an extremely broad right to control advertising and marketing decisions, including robo-calling campaigns.”

In depositions, Domino’s executives stated that the company “does not engage in robo-call marketing on a national level and has little, if any, involvement in [a] franchisee’s local marketing plans.”

The judge sided with Domino’s, writing: “The mere fact that Domino’s requires franchisees to participate in marketing campaigns does not somehow mean that any franchisee’s illegal use of [robo-calling] is imputed to the franchisor… it is not enough that Domino’s benefitted from the calls (although they surely did).”

While the judge did dismiss the case against Domino’s and deny the plaintiffs’ request for class-action status, he allowed the case against the franchisee to continue.

Domino’s Dodges Suit Over Robocall Marketing []