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Applebee’s launches legal battle against its own franchise owner for control of Dayton-area restaurants

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2018 @ 8:00 AM

RMH Franchise has already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it seeks to reorganize its debts.

Applebee’s Grill & Bar’s corporate owners have filed a lawsuit to wrestle control of the brand’s restaurants in the Dayton area from its franchisee, in part because the franchisee has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The complex and high-stakes legal battle is in its early stages in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, but its ultimate impact will almost certainly be felt in the Dayton area. Applebee’s corporate owners have already identified in court papers one Dayton-area location — the Applebee’s at 1795 Delco Park Drive in Kettering — that would be forced to drop its affiliation to Applebee’s if a judge rules in favor of the chain’s corporate owners’ lawsuit.

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RMH Franchise Holdings — the Atlanta-based restaurant franchise company that operates more than 150 Applebee’s locations in 15 states, including Ohio — filed for Chapter 11 re-organization bankruptcy May 8 in the federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, indicating it would continue operating while seeking relief from its debts. Those debts included $14.2 million owed to Applebee’s International Inc. for royalty fees and advertising costs, according to bankruptcy court records.

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But Applebee’s corporate parent, Dine Brands Global, is challenging portions of its franchisee’s bankruptcy filing. In its own lawsuit filed three weeks after the initial bankruptcy court action, Dine Brands Global claimed that the restaurants operated by RMH Franchise Holdings should not be regarded as assets under RMH’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing because RMH had reneged on its franchise agreement. Dine Brands is asking a judge for a court order ruling that all of of the restaurants operated by RMH now essentially belong to Dine Brands.

Dine Brands Global claims in its lawsuit that RMH Franchise owes it a total of nearly $23.4 million in royalties and fees, and in future royalties and fees lost after RMH Franchise shut down some of the stores it operated. 

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RMH Franchise has not yet filed a formal response to the May 25 lawsuit. Messages sent to a spokeswoman for RMH Franchise Wednesday afternoon seeking comment had not been returned as of this morning, Thursday June 14.

Greg Flynn, Chairman and CEO of the Flynn group, the largest Applebee's franchisee, said in a a statement released by Dine Brands/Applebee’s  that despite the dispute with RMH Franchise, the Applebee’s brand is doing well.  

“It’s unfortunate that this particular franchisee has an issue, but at the same time, I’m very happy that Applebee’s is experiencing some of the best sales and traffic in a decade. A strong driver of our success has been our incredible collaboration and partnership among franchisees and Applebee’s leadership. I believe the future is very bright for Applebee’s.” 

 Court documents suggest the dispute between the Applebee’s corporate parent and its second-largest franchisee had been developing for at least a year. RMH Franchise “stopped paying royalties due under the franchise agreements” in June 2017, according to the lawsuit.

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And according to FranchiseTimes.com, RMH  Franchise suggested in documents related to its bankruptcy filing that Dine Brands was as least partly to blame for its financial difficulties, saying that “specific managerial decisions made on behalf of it by (Dine Brands) … have negatively impacted (our) business operations and left them facing near-term liquidity issues.”  RMH had been making efforts to reduce operating expenses in part by “divesting themselves of certain under-performing locations,” RMH officials said in court documents.

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RMH abruptly closed its Wilmington Pike restaurant in Sugarcreek Twp. on Saturday, June 9. Visitors to the restaurant that day were told the restaurant had shut down permanently, and they were given coupons for $10 off a meal at either of two nearby Applebee’s restaurants.

RMH has closed other Applebee’s in other states, including one on Tuesday, June 12 in South Bend, Indiana — that community’s second Applebee’s closure within a year, according to the South Bend Tribune.

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Dine Brands Global says in its lawsuit that if a judge grants its request, it would assume control of the vast majority of RMH’s restaurants and continue operating them as Applebee’s. But it attached to its lawsuit a list of 20 RMH-operated restaurants it would NOT seek to take over, meaning those 20 restaurants would “need to immediately de-affiliate from using the Applebee’s” name and trademarks if the judge ruled in favor of Dine Brands, according to the lawsuit. 

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That list included three Ohio restaurants, one in the Toledo area, one on Colerain Avenue in Cincinnati, and the Delco Park Drive location in Kettering. That location was one of the two restaurants to which RMH Franchise officials referred customers of the Sugarcreek Twp. location when it shut down Saturday. 

Other RMH-operated Applebee’s restaurants are located in Huber Heights, Xenia, Springboro, Springfield, Sidney, Mason, and on Ohio 741 near the Dayton Mall. 

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Small earthquake detected in Mexico City after national team beats Germany 

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 6:20 PM

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JUNE 17: Mexicans celebrate at the Angel of Independence after the Mexico National Team victory over Germany in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia on June 17, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images)
Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JUNE 17: Mexicans celebrate at the Angel of Independence after the Mexico National Team victory over Germany in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia on June 17, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images)(Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)

Fans cheering the national team’s win over Germany created an “artificial quake” that tipped the Richter scale, according to reports

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Seismologists at two monitoring stations in Mexico City picked up readings when Hirving Lozano scored 35 minutes into Mexico’s 1-0 upset over defending champion Germany Sunday, according to USA Today

Officials at the California Earthquake Center told USA Today the induced quake likely generated a 2 on the Richter scale and would have gone unnoticed by the public if it were a typical earthquake. 

Germany became the third defending champion to lose in its opening match in the last 16 years. Mexico next plays Korea Republic June 23. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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2 dead after Osaka hit with massive 6.1 magnitude earthquake

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 10:55 PM

Smoke rises from a house blaze in Takatsuki, Osaka, following an earthquake Monday, June 18, 2018.  A strong earthquake shook the city of Osaka in western Japan on Monday morning, causing scattered damage including broken glass and partial building collapses. There were no immediate reports of injuries. (Kyodo News via AP)
Yohei Nishimura/AP
Smoke rises from a house blaze in Takatsuki, Osaka, following an earthquake Monday, June 18, 2018. A strong earthquake shook the city of Osaka in western Japan on Monday morning, causing scattered damage including broken glass and partial building collapses. There were no immediate reports of injuries. (Kyodo News via AP)(Yohei Nishimura/AP)

A massive 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck outside Osaka Monday morning, leaving at least two dead and 41 injured.

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The quake registered around 8 a.m. with an initial strength of 5.9, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

There was no tsunami threat however morning commutes were disrupted as trains were not running and power was out to many homes, according to the Japan Times

Kansai Electric Power Co. said nuclear plants in Fukui Prefecture were operating normally.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

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23-foot python swallows woman whole, reports say

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 8:42 AM

Woman Swallowed Whole By Python

A 54-year-old Indonesian woman is dead after villagers say a 23-foot python swallowed her whole.

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According to The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse, Wa Tiba of Muna Island disappeared Thursday after leaving her village, Persiapan Lawela, to tend to her garden. The next day, searchers discovered a "snake with a bloated belly" and some of Tiba's things near the garden, said the village's chief, known by the single name Faris, the AP reported.

Faris said villagers killed the python and cut it open, the AP reported. They then "found Tiba's body still intact with all her clothes," Faris said.

Graphic photos and videos posted online appeared to show the woman's body being extracted from the dead python.

>> Read more trending news 

This isn't the first time a python has swallowed a person in Indonesia, where such snakes are common, AFP reported. A farmer died under similar circumstances in March 2017 on the island of Sulawesi, according to the news service.

Read more here or here.

Dangerous Snakes

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2 people shot at Washington Walmart

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 9:24 PM

File photo. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Police are responding to reports of a shooting inside the Walmart Supercenter in Tumwater, Washington. 

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The fire department told KIRO7.com they are calling it a "mass casualty incident" and confirmed at least two people were shot.

The Walmart is about 62 miles from Seattle.This is a developing story. Check back with KIRO7.com for updates.

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