Shoney’s CEO David Davoudpour claims that he, the Shoney’s brand and Shoney’s franchisees are being harmed by disparaging online comments that Shoney’s is a “dead brand” and Davoudpour is a “snake oil salesman” and a “crook and a liar.” If that’s the case, why does Mr. David Davoudpour ignore our offer to set the record straight?
(UnhappyFranchisee.Com) Shoney’s North America LLC and its CEO David Davoudpour are being victimized by a bankrupt former Shoney’s franchise owner named Edward Bay, according to Shoney’s attorney Mark S. VanderBroek.
In a letter to Ed Bay’s attorney Vince Taylor, VanderBroek states:
…since the termination of his Shoney ‘s franchise agreements in March 2014, Bay has made it his personal vendetta to attack, harass, disparage, and defame Shoney ‘s and Davoudpour through a pattern of dozens of false, misleading, and defamatory Internet posts and comments made through multiple forums and using multiple identities
Some of those allegedly disparaging comments appear below the UnhappyFranchisee.Com post entitled SHONEY’S Rated a Worst Franchise by Forbes. Do You Agree?
It is UnhappyFranchisee.Com policy to never take down comments. However, we have an open invitation for anyone or any company discussed on the site to provide rebuttals, clarifications or other statements for publication.
June 6, 2014 we offered Mr. Davoudpour the chance to address the allegations regarding the decline of the Shoney’s brand under his leadership, and questions as to his business ethics.
Read our first invitation: SHONEY’S: Our Response to the David Davoudpour Take-Down Request
Our request was ignored, and the comments went unchallenged and unaddressed by Davoudpour & Shoney’s for 7 months.
After yesterday’s threatening legal letter to Edward Bay’s attorney, UnhappyFranchisee.Com once again offered CEO David Davoudpour a chance to set the record straight.
Mark S. VanderBroek
Attorney for Shoney’s, David Davoudpour
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
Attorneys and Counselors at Law
Atlantic Station I 201 17th Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30363
February 17, 2015
Dear Mr. VanderBroek:
I just read your letter dated February 16, 2015 to Edward Bay’s attorney Vince Taylor, Esq. regarding Internet comments regarding your clients Shoney’s North America LLC and CEO David Davoudpour. Some of these comments appear on UnhappyFranchisee.Com.
In your letter, you state “Bay ‘s defamatory postings are causing ongoing damage to Shoney’s and Davoudpour, and to the businesses of hardworking independent Shoney’s franchisees who are harmed by Bay ‘s attacks on the SHONEY’S brand”
In your letter and attachment you mention links from YouTube and Facebook pages to the offending statements on our site 8 separate times.
I would like to propose, for a second time, a very quick, no-cost way that your client can immediately halt any alleged damage that these allegations are causing to the Shoney’s brand, its franchisees, and Mr. Davoudpour. If you or your client would like to provide a detailed rebuttal to each of the comments posted on UnhappyFranchisee.Com, I will post it in its entirety. Additionally, I will post links to the rebuttal page adjacent to each of the comments you find offensive, so that every reader knows the allegations are disputed or have been disproved by your client.
You may then post links to Shoney’s UnhappyFranchisee.Com rebuttal page on YouTube and Facebook, thereby mitigating the allegedly damaging statements throughout the Internet.
Four of the statements you characterize as “false, misleading and defamatory” seem (to this non-lawyer) to be statements of a factual nature. If untrue, they should be relatively easy to rebut:
· “that Davoudpour was responsible for more than 100 Shoney’s restaurants closing since 2007;”
· “that since Davoudpour’s tenure began Shoney ‘s has been sued by multiple vendors, landlords, and franchisees;”
· “that Shoney’s does or did not have a VP of Operations, a VP of Training, a VP of Human Resources, or a VP or Director of Purchasing;”
· “that Shoney’s has not built a single new company-owned prototype SHONEY’S restaurant.”
Four of the statements (again, to my layman’s understanding) seem to be opinion and hyperbole, and therefore not actionable as defamation:
· “that Shoney’s is a dead brand;”
· “that “He [Davoudpour] is a crook and a liar;”
· “that Davoudpour is a “snake oil salesman;”
· “that no one but a “snake oil salesman” would not want to sell franchises in all states;”
As a company with (I assume) a marketing department, an advertising agency and a PR firm at its disposal, it would seem like a pretty simple task to provide a compelling counter-argument as to why Shoney’s is a vibrant and growing brand, and that Mr. Davoudpour is a respected and respectable businessperson who enriches the lives of his employees and franchisees, loves our servicemen and women, and gives back to the community.
As you may recall, I extended this same invitation to your client in my letter dated June 6, 2014:
“With all due respect to you and your profession, Mr. VanderBroek, a CEO paying an attorney to go after name-callers on the Internet is a little like a rich boy paying the big kid to threaten anyone who calls him names on the playground.
“I invite Mr. David Davoudpour to provide me with a clarification, correction, rebuttal or other statement. I will publish Mr. Davoudpour’s statement in its entirety with the same or greater prominence as the nasty comment regarding him and Shoney’s. I will place links to Mr. Davoudpour’s statement on the original post and near the offending comments so that anyone reading the criticism will see link to Mr. Davoudpour’s rebuttal.”
If Mr. Davoudpour truly cares about his brand and Shoney’s franchisees, and he truly believes that these comments are harming them, why has Mr. Davoudpour ignored my offer and left these statements on the Internet unanswered and uncontested for 7 months (and counting)?
Does Mr. Davoudpour truly believe that his public image is enhanced by choosing to make legal threats against a bankrupt Shoney’s franchisee for comments prompted by Shoney’s inclusion on the Forbes “Worst Franchise” list?
With all due respect to you, Mr. VanderBroek, it is my opinion that Mr. Davoudpour’s refusal to respond to his online critics in a direct and open manner is what happens when one misguidedly opts for a legalistic, punitive response to what is essentially a public relations and marketing issue.
I hope to hear from you or your client soon.
All the best,
Cc Vince Taylor, Esq., Attorney for Edward Bay
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TAGS: David Davoudpour, Shoney’s, Shoney’s franchise, Shoney’s franchise complaints, Shoney’s North America, Ed Bay, Edward Bay, Mark VanderBroek, Shoney’s litigation, Shoney’s lawsuit, Worst franchise, Forbes Worst franchises, franchise, franchising, Unhappy Franchisee