According to Carmen Caruso of Schwartz Cooper, “The addition of these regional associations makes clear that the forced conversion by IDQ/ADQ is a national problem, not a problem isolated to one particular region or state. It is affecting all franchisees.” The lawsuit by the four Dairy Queen franchisee associations continues to ask the Court to prevent IDQ and ADQ from:
1. Forcing current members to convert their outlets to the new DQ Grill & Chill or DQ/Orange Julius concepts through modernization/name change programs immediately upon renewal, relocation, transfer, or upgrade of their existing franchise agreements.
2. Placing unreasonable requirements, i.e., a mandatory investment of tens of thousands of dollars, on existing Dairy Queen franchisees to convert their current outlet to an entirely new Dairy Queen concept/brand/system, resulting in the potential loss of their business.
3. Placing surcharges on products sold to the franchisees by endorsed vendors/distributors of IDQ/ADQ for advertising purposes without applying credits for the payment of these surcharges to the franchisees’ advertising commitments per the franchise agreements.
4. Requiring payment of surcharges on certain products sold to Dairy Queen franchisees for advertising purposes and, therefore, breaching franchisee agreements that do not require franchisees to pay advertising fees.
This suit, on behalf of members of four separate regional franchisee associations spanning ten states, seeks to protect the rights of existing and future Dairy Queen franchisees by eliminating the threat of forced conversions by IDQ/ADQ which impact the viability of each and every Dairy Queen franchisee. MDQOA’s members own and operate Dairy Queen franchises in Michigan; AZDQOA’s membership is comprised of Dairy Queen owners and operators situated in Arizona; NESO’s members own and operate Dairy Queen franchised outlets in West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky; and Heartland’s members operate franchises in Missouri and Illinois.