Federal Court Rules in Burger King's Favor in Hawkins Case

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Miami-Judge Marianne Battani of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan entered a summary judgment today dismissing all claims made by LaVan Hawkins and his operating companies against Burger King Corp., thereby paving the way for the company to pursue an injunction that would demand Hawkins relinquish control of his restaurants. Burger King had been attempting to reach a settlement with Hawkins for more than 18 months and began seeking relief through the courts in April of this year.

"We are pleased by the court's ruling. It's well-reasoned and applies the law correctly," said Barry Blum, chief legal counsel for Burger King. "This ruling will allow us to now focus our attention on an orderly transition of Mr. Hawkins' 22 restaurants in Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and Maryland. It is our hope that we can come to terms with Mr. Hawkins to transfer ownership as quickly as possible, thereby assuring the employees, suppliers and customers that these restaurants will remain open."

In his lawsuit filed against Burger King in April, Hawkins charged the fast-food company with defamation of character, fraud and interference with his ability to conduct business, saying the company reneged on a promise to provide him with 225 restaurants in urban areas within five years. Burger King later filed a lawsuit against Hawkins alleging that he didn't pay his $6.5 million debt to the corporation for royalty payments on his franchise restaurants.

"This ruling means Burger King has to sit down and negotiate a deal with me for the restaurants," Hawkins said. "This ruling does not have anything to do with the commitment that was made to me or to the black community." -PRNewswire, Detroit Free Press

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