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Michelman & Robinson, LLP (M&R) has a robust Hospitality Industry Affinity Group (IAG), comprised of attorneys from five different practice areas working in concert to service various sectors of the hospitality industry. This multi-disciplined group of lawyers has unparalleled experience in counseling, litigating and handling transactional matters for hotel, resort, restaurant, and food & beverage company owners, operators, managers, franchisers, franchisees, developers and financiers. 

M&R attorneys advise management on business start-up, day-to-day operations, corporate governance and complex financial and business issues. Our Corporate attorneys guide clients through the nascent stages of their business’s formation, including the structuring of the business entity, to strategic partnerships. We advise on limiting liability and separating assets and operations as it relates to intellectual property, employees, real estate holdings and operational services. Our attorneys are experienced with mergers and acquisitions, negotiating purchase and sale agreements, and leasing and licensing contracts. Further, we provide counseling on licensing, compliance and regulatory issues.

Our Labor and Employment attorneys counsel our hospitality clients on drafting employee handbooks, workplace audits, benefits and compensation packages, executive employment agreements, employment practices, liability insurance and workplace safety. We have successfully negotiated with unions on behalf of hotel and restaurant clients, and we have handled labor disputes, including multi-employer groups, in collective bargaining negotiations. As tenacious, aggressive litigators, we have a proven track record handling high-exposure lawsuits involving wage and hour disputes, and harassment and discrimination claims, often in a class action capacity.

Our seasoned Intellectual Property attorneys provide tactical advice and counseling on domestic and foreign branding issues, brand protection, IP registration and policing, trademark and copyright negotiation and litigation, in addition to unparalleled representation during domain name disputes.

Our Commercial & Business Litigation attorneys have represented nearly every four and five star hotel in California, as well as numerous upscale properties in other states and countries. Our attorneys often handle high stakes cases totaling hundreds of millions of dollars involving hotels, resorts and restaurants. Typical issues include restaurant-related premises liability disputes, personal injury cases, contract disputes and vendor issues on behalf of large groups. We also frequently represent food and beverage distributors in litigation involving route and customer infringement, national distribution contract disputes, and supply and service agreements.   

Attorneys from our Real Estate Department frequently review and analyze property specific issues including title, leasing/tenancy and financing matters. We represent borrowers and lenders in loan transactions, and sponsors and investors in structuring and documenting limited liability company and partnership vehicles for investment in hospitality real estate. Further, we counsel insured parties with respect to title insurance claims, lien and ownership priority, easement rights, mechanic’s lien rights, adverse possession, and other prescriptive right, and accretion/erosion issues that arise for our hospitality clients.

We are actively involved with prominent hotel and restaurant trade associations. We are members of the California Hotel & Lodging Association, Hotel Association of Los Angeles, Hotel Council of San Francisco, Resort Hotel Association, California Restaurant Association, Golden Gate Restaurant Association and New York State Restaurant Association. We are frequent speakers and panelists at national and regional hospitality industry conferences and events, and we regularly publish articles in prominent hospitality trade magazines and newsletters. As industry authorities, we study current trends shaping the hospitality business landscape and always help our clients make decisions with their long-term business goals in mind. 

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Areas Of Expertise

The following is a select sampling of our representative matters:

  • Counseling & Negotiation: M&R attorneys successfully counsel and negotiate on behalf of hospitality clients in contract disputes and general employment matters, including executive compensation, terminations and best employment practices.
  • Employment/Sexual Assault: Plaintiff was allegedly touched inappropriately by a hotel employee. M&R was retained to defend the global hotel corporation against negligent hiring and premises liability claims arising from the purported incident. Successfully negotiated a resolution after demonstrating that there was no negligence by the client.
  • Executive Employment Agreements: We routinely prepare executive employment agreements involving industry-specific compensation packages for national hotels and restaurant, food and beverage companies.
  • Joint VentureSuccessfully negotiated joint venture for food and beverage client with one of Hollywood’s historic hotels, leading to opening of a unique food, beverage and recreational concept in California.
  • Labor Relations: We have defeated several union organizing campaigns, handled labor arbitrations and served as lead labor counsel on strikes and in collective bargaining negotiations for a number of major national and international hotel and restaurant chains.
  • Landlord-Tenant Dispute: Obtained a favorable resolution of a landlord-tenant dispute between an overstay guest who had obtained tenancy rights and hotel owner/operator.
  • Litigation: After a child fell from a hotel room window, the family sued the hotel claiming it was the window that caused the fall and not that the parents failed in their supervision. Obtained summary judgment on the client’s behalf. In the same case, secured a court order requiring the out-of-state plaintiffs to post a $75,000 bond as security for defense costs, and the trial court awarded $17,000 in costs to client.
  • Litigation: Obtained favorable result for hotelier in a case of alleged bed-bugs in a hotel by prevailing on a demurrer to the fraud cause of action and motion to strike punitive damages.
  • Litigation: Prevailed on numerous ex parte applications on discovery and pre-trial issues and obtained favorable settlement in contentious premises liability litigation concerning injury to a child from falling out a hotel window.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions: Represented a well-known hotel and gaming corporation in the acquisition and disposition of gaming, hotel and other hospitality properties.
  • New Market Tax Credits:  Represented developer Full Spectrum of NY, LLC and My Image Studios Inc., in the closing of a $21 million New Markets Tax Credit financing that provided the debt and equity to build a 20,000 square foot African and Hispanic restaurant, production facility and arts and culture center in Harlem, New York. Led a team of multi-disciplinary lawyers (including real estate, banking , tax and finance counsel) in structuring the deal, which included senior and junior debt, sale of tax credits for equity, and additional capital from the investors. Reviewed and coordinated numerous legal documents including loan agreements, corporate reorganizational documents, a building and construction agreement and a tax opinion on the structure of the deal.
  • Premises Liability for Hoteliers: After prevailing on summary judgment in a case where a hotel restaurant patron was allegedly bit by a spider in an outdoor patio, secured award of nearly all of defendant’s litigation costs.
  • Property Loss at Hotel: Obtained early settlement by drafting demurrer and motion to strike where the complaint alleged property loss from a hotel room above the recoverable statutory minimum under the applicable California hotel law.
  • Purchase and Licensing: Represented client in purchase of an alcoholic beverage business and assisted in obtaining licensing and distribution rights.
  • Purchase of Alcoholic Beverage Business: Represented a client in the purchase of an alcoholic beverage business, which later acquired licensing and distribution rights as a strategy to enhance the brand.
  • Restaurant Formation: On behalf of owner operators and chef owners, M&R formed and structured numerous restaurant businesses by counseling on structure and financing, securing necessary licensing (alcohol), furniture, fixtures and equipment to start the enterprise. Additionally, M&R was instrumental in negotiating executive compensation, management and consulting, and various forms of brand and intellectual property licensing agreements.
  • Restaurant Purchase: Represented one of the most prominent restaurateurs in Hungary in the $1.8 million purchase of a Downtown Los Angeles restaurant. Navigated multiple complex issues in closing the transaction, including: restructuring purchase terms to ensure satisfaction of the secured creditors and bulk sales law; obtaining a waiver and amendment of a recapture provision in the lease; and negotiating more favorable terms for the client at closing, including a $500,000 discount on the purchase price.
  • Restaurant Refinancing: M&R advised restaurateur in securing additional financing to complete restaurant build-out when poor budgeting and design and construction flaws halted project. Successfully recovered funds from consultants through litigation.
  • Restaurant Sale: Negotiated on behalf of and advised owner of a multi-unit restaurant business through successfully obtaining financing from a private equity fund.

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