Any Lab Test Now, a chain of walk-in labs, has 130 franchised stores in 26 states. It is managed by Joe Neely, Chief Executive Officer; Clarissa Bradstock, Chief Operating Officer; and Terri McCulloch, Vice President Sales and Marketing. Bradstock is married to prominent Olympic athlete Roald Bradstock, who is seeking a final appearance in 2012 Olympics under the British flag.
Seven present and former franchisees of “Any Lab Test Now,” a walk-in lab facility franchise owned by Atlanta-based Any Test Franchising, have sued David Lageschulte, the founder and owner of the franchise, in Miami Circuit Court for unfair trade practices in the sale of their franchises. They seek over $10 million for fraudulent conduct in the sale of the franchise. Lageschulte, reportedly a billionaire, is the owner of LTP Management and numerous franchised restaurants.
According to franchise attorney Michael Garner, who is representing the franchise owners, “Any Lab Test Now selectively presented the best information and hid what was most relevant — how their actual franchisees were doing. The law doesn’t allow you to start talking about profitability, and then be one-sided about it.”
“They started their sales presentation with an endorsement from Lags,” said Jason Baumann, one of the plaintiffs, referring to Lageschulte’s nickname. “He said that franchising was the way to get rich.” Exhibits to the complaint show Lageschulte’s quote, surrounded by logos from prominent franchisors such as Hooters, Ugly Tuna, and Dan Marino’s. The written presentations go on to extol the success of the franchise’s stores in Atlanta.
Referring to the allegedly blatant earnings claims in the presentation Garner said “That’s plainly a violation of franchise sales laws. Lageschulte knows that Any Lab Test Now can’t sell franchises by hawking it this way. They have to put it in a disclosure document.”
The case seeks the value of the business that Lageschulte’s endorsement held out to them. “Based on the information in the written sales pitches,” Baumann explained, “we should be entitled to damages of at least $10 million before any punitive damages or attorneys’ fees.” The franchisees’ case is similar to an action brought by investors in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Ft. Lauderdale. Although Donald Trump was not the developer of that project, and was lending his name to it for a fee, the court held he could be held liable under the Unfair Trade Practices Act.
“I would never have bought this Any Lab Test Now franchise if I had known the actual performance of the franchisees,” said Baumann. “We were shown several sets of figures and told they were representative. In fact, the franchisor, Any Lab Test Now, was sitting on data from its existing franchisees that showed much worse performance.”
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