SGIC Strategic Global Inv. v. Burger King, No. 15-10943 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs Christian Groenke, SGIC, and GRIL owned and operated numerous Burger King restaurants in Germany. These Burger King restaurants all operated under franchise agreements entered into with Defendant BKE. BKE is a Swiss corporation and the franchisor of Burger King restaurants in Germany. Plaintiffs filed the instant lawsuit against BKE, claiming tortious interference and seeking a declaratory judgment regarding their rights under the relevant franchise agreements (the “Franchise Agreement Litigation”). The Franchise Agreement Litigation began on September 12, 2014. On April 17, 2014—five months prior to the start of the Franchise Agreement Litigation—BKE filed a separate suit against Groenke in the Northern District of Texas to recover franchise fees that Groenke allegedly owed BKE under the Personal Guarantee (the “Personal Guarantee Litigation”). The district court dismissed the Franchise Agreement Litigation on grounds of forum non conveniens based on the forum selection clause in the relevant franchise agreements. The court upheld the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims. However, the court held that the district court abused its discretion when it denied as moot plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend without providing reasons for doing so, when the record also lacked “ample and obvious grounds” supporting its denial of the motion. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal, vacated the order denying the motion for leave to amend, and remanded for further proceedings.