Duncan Services, Inc. [I] v. ExxonMobil Oil Corp., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104061 (D. Md. 11-6-09)
Plaintiffs, franchisees of direct-supplied Exxon-branded retail locations, sought a preliminary injunction based upon an alleged violation of the PMPA which, in turn, was based upon the "potential" assignment by Exxon of their franchise agreements to a non-refiner wholesale distributor. Plaintiffs alleged that said assignment constituted an "anticipatory" nonrenewal of their franchises. Noting that assignments can constitute constructive nonrenewal only when they violate state law or one of the elements of the franchise relationship, the court ruled that it could make no such findings before the facts that would support them had been conclusively established, and refused to do so on the basis of either inferences that might be drawn from other recent assignments by Exxon, or Exxon's admitted, but unspecified, plans to assign the franchises. Since it found that Exxon's anticipated action did not violate the PMPA, the court dismissed plaintiffs' PMPA claim and, because it found no termination or nonrenewal, denied plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction.