A KFC Corp. franchisee that sells halal chicken has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging the franchise agreements did not disclose a purported company policy preventing franchisees from making religious claims about their food. Lokhandwala v. KFC Corp., No. 17-5394 (N.D. Ill., filed July 24, 2017). The plaintiff, who owns and operates eight franchises, began advertising and selling halal chicken in 2003, and KFC allegedly assisted with locating approved poultry suppliers and distributors of halal-certified chicken. In 2016, the plaintiff asserts, the company informed him that it had a policy dating back to 2009 prohibiting religious claims about KFC products, “citing a risk of lawsuits and consumer confusion.”

The plaintiff alleges the policy was not disclosed in any of his franchise agreements, violating the Illinois Franchise Disclosure Act; he further alleges that his “customer base and business revenue is heavily dependent on the sale of Halal chicken to the Muslim community” and that four of his locations would not generate enough revenue to sustain operations if he was forced to stop selling halal chicken. Claiming breach of contract, promissory estoppel, violations of the Illinois Franchise Disclosure Act and state consumer-protection laws, the plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and attorney’s fees.


Issue 642

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.