Legacy Academy attorney M. Kathleen Hart of Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. sent UnhappyFranchisee.Com a 2-page letter objecting to our use of the Legacy Academy logo and warning us that some of our articles were “perilously close” to being libelous.
Among other things, Ms. Hart stated that we had suggested that Legacy Owners Frank Turner & Melissa Turner are “disreputable.”
We do not know Frank or Melissa Turner, and never made a statement to that effect.
We really have not yet formed an opinion as to how “reputable” the Turners are, which is why we have asked them for their side of things (See LEGACY ACADEMY Invited to Respond to Franchise Complaints).
In this, our second response letter to Ms. Hart, we ask for clarification regarding her warning, and also suggest that Frank & Melissa accept our offer to clarify, correct or rebut our discussion of their company.
We will print whatever they would like known about them pro bono, with no hourly rates or administrative charges whatsoever.
See Ms. Hart’s cease & desist letter: LEGACY ACADEMY UnhappyFranchisee.Com Complies With Legal Request/Threat
See UnhappyFranchisee.Com’s response regarding our use of the Legacy Academy logo: LEGACY ACADEMY Issues Cease & Desist Letter to UnhappyFranchisee.Com
M. Kathleen Hart, Esq.
Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C.
One Sugarloaf Centre
1960 Satellite Boulevard, Suite 4000
Duluth, Georgia, 30097
January 27, 2014
Dear Ms. Hart:
I would like to take this opportunity to address the warning that you issued to UnhappyFranchisee.Com in your letter of January 24, 2014 (LEGACY ACADEMY Issues Cease & Desist Letter to UnhappyFranchisee.Com), specifically your statement that our articles “come perilously close to libel” by suggesting that “Legacy and its owners are ‘disreputable’.”
As it is not our intention to be libelous, we would like to ask you for clarifications in terms of what specific statements you consider “perilously close to libel.”
As we did in our first response (LEGACY ACADEMY UnhappyFranchisee.Com Complies With Legal Request/Threat), we beg your patience as to our limited, layman’s understanding of the law.
Regarding the concern that we have suggested that Legacy Academy owners Frank & Melissa Turner are “disreputable,” we can only find three (3) prior direct references to the Turners, two of which seem to be statements of verifiable fact:
“…Importantly, the jury specifically concluded that Legacy and its owners and officers—Frank and Melissa Turner—had engaged in at least two (2) acts of theft by deception, which is a criminal offense.” (LEGACY ACADEMY Ichter Thomas Wins Suit for Legacy Academy Franchise Owners)
“After hearing a case presented by attorney Cary Ichter, the jury concluded that Legacy and its owners and officers—Frank and Melissa Turner—had engaged in at least two acts of theft by deception, which is a criminal offense.” (LEGACY ACADEMY Franchise Complaints)
Upon posting these statements, we immediately contacted Legacy Academy and requested clarification, corrections or rebuttal, but got no response. If a jury did NOT conclude that the Turners had engaged in at least two acts of theft by deception, and/or those are not criminal offenses, please let us know so we can issue a correction.
The third reference, posted under the subhead, “Has Legacy Academy Ceased Its Deceptive Franchise Practices?” on LEGACY ACADEMY Franchise Complaints, also does not appear to be “close to libel”:
One would think that perhaps after 11 legal disputes involving deceptive sales practices, Legacy Academy and it owners Frank and Melissa Turner may have learned their lessons, cleaned up their acts, seen the light, and raised themselves up onto the righteous path of franchise sales compliance, stellar franchisee support, and positive franchisee-franchisor relations.
As we understand it, opinions are not libelous as long as they are clearly stated as opinions. It is our opinion that most franchisors who have had the number of franchisee lawsuits and disputes as your client has had would be VERY careful to refrain from any franchise marketing representation that comes “perilously close” to appearing to be misleading or violations of the FTC Franchise Rule.
It is our opinion that some of the representations on the Legacy Academy are a bit questionable (We will be happy to share our opinion on this subject).
It is our opinion that your clients’ reputations would be better served if they engaged in open and honest dialogue concerning these valid issues, rather than hiding behind their law firm and seeking a baseless legalistic, adversarial approach.
As their track record for resolving disputes through the legal system seems to be less than stellar (in our opinion), perhaps your client might try providing a rebuttal to the articles they object to.
In our opinion, actually engaging in an exchange of ideas and opinions, as protected by the 1st Amendment, would not only be a great way for your client to enhance their reputation, they could do so without incurring attorney’s fees. That would enable them to deploy more financial resources toward supporting their franchisees, and less toward supporting their law firm.
Again, if you could please be specific about which statements you consider “perilously close to libel,” we will address those concerns as quickly as we can.
All the best,
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TAGS: Legacy Academy, Legacy Academy franchise, Legacy Academy child care, Legacy Academy lawsuit, Legacy Academy franchise complaints, Legacy Academy franchise lawsuits, M. Kathleen Hart, Attorney Kathleen Hart, Anderson Tate & Carr, Frank Turner, Melissa Turner, Unhappy Franchisee, libel, defamation, cease and desist
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