In the News

Haynes and Boone Scores Victory for Benihana in Franchise Termination Lawsuit

AUSTIN – Haynes and Boone, LLP successfully defended Benihana National Corporation, the nation’s leading operator of Japanese theme and sushi restaurants, in a lawsuit against claims of breach of franchise agreements in Austin and San Antonio. >>



Iris Gibson

Counsel

Austin


600 Congress Avenue
Suite 1300
Austin, 78701
T +1 512.867.8403
F +1 512.867.8650

Áreas de Practica

Educación

  • J.D., University of Texas at Austin School of Law, 2002, with high honors; Order of the Coif; Texas Law Review
  • B.B.A., University of Texas at Austin, 1997, with high honors

Bar Admissions

  • Texas, 2002

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Iris Gibson

As a counsel in the Business Litigation Practice Group, Iris Gibson focuses her practice on writing and on effectively telling her clients' stories. At the pretrial level, Ms. Gibson authors summary judgment and other dispositive motions, which help her clients resolve their cases at the earliest possible stage. At the trial phase, Ms. Gibson effectively presents her clients' positions and defenses in complex commercial disputes involving claims such as fraud, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference, and negligence. Ms. Gibson concentrates on commercial and franchise-related litigation.

Before joining the firm, Ms. Gibson was a litigation consultant, providing financial, economic, and damage analysis for business disputes.

Ms. Gibson's passion for telling her clients' stories extends to those without access to the legal system. Her enthusiasm for pro bono work earned Ms. Gibson the 2010 J. Chrys Dougherty Award for exemplary dedication and commitment to the principle of access to justice for all people regardless of income.

Selected Client Representations

  • Conducting depositions of numerous plaintiffs as defense counsel for international franchisor facing tort claims brought by nationwide group of plaintiffs.

  • Obtaining summary judgment for equipment dealer in dispute with equipment rental company regarding allegedly defective trucks.

  • Representing national franchisors in disputes involving Lanham Act violations, breach of franchise agreements, tortious interference, and lost profits.

  • Obtaining summary judgment and declaratory relief in favor of franchisor regarding interpretation of covenant not to compete.

  • Representing national franchisor in successfully enforcing forum selection clauses.

  • Donating more than 500 pro bono hours, representing needy clients in family law cases, including those involving domestic violence, consumer matters, and social security disability cases.

  • Prosecuting code violations and misdemeanors for the City of Houston Municipal Courts as a volunteer prosecutor.

Selected Professional and Community Service Activities

  • 2010 J. Chrys Dougherty Award for commitment to pro bono work
  • Pro Bono Attorney and Firm Coordinator, Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas
  • City of Houston Municipal Courts Prosecutor (2007) 
  • Robert W. Calvert American Inn of Court, Associate Member (2004-2006) 
  • Member, ABA Forum on Franchising

Publications

  • "Annual Review of Litigation, Chapter 3: Appellate Practice," contributor, with Kendyl Hanks and Mark Trachtenberg, American Bar Association, Section of Business Law, April 2011.

Selected Representative Experience


Court Dismisses Franchisor’s CEO from Lawsuit Based on Plaintiffs’ Failure to State a Claim
A federal court dismissed the sole claim against the CEO for alleged violations of the DTPA because the franchisees failed to allege that the CEO engaged in any false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices. Momentum Marketing Sales & Services, Inc. v. Curves Int’l, Inc., Business Franchise Guide (CCH), ¶14,215 (W.D. Tex. Jul. 28, 2009)

DDB Technologies v. Schlumberger and MLB Advanced Media LLC
Represented Major League Baseball in series of state and federal court suits pertaining to certain game simulation patents owned by a Texas company and assigned to MLBAM by Schlumberger.

Anti-Waiver Provisions in Franchisees' State Franchise Statutes Trumped by Texas Law
The federal court for the Western District of Texas dismissed all of the Curves franchisees’ causes of action based on the laws of their home states because Texas law, the law of the franchisor’s location and the law set forth in the choice of law clauses, applies. In this consolidated action, several Curves franchisees located across the United States asserted twenty-six non-Texas statutory claims based on the franchise act and consumer protection laws in the states where the franchisees are located. Franchisees argued that the anti-waiver provisions found in the laws of eleven states that contain franchises owned and/or previously owned by plaintiffs required the application of the laws where the franchisees are located. The federal court rejected this argument because the laws of the franchisees’ home states are inapplicable based on the application of the “most significant relationship” set forth in the Restatement (Second) of Conflicts of Law. Because Texas had the most significant relationship to the franchisees’ claims, the laws of the franchisees’ home states, including those states with anti-waiver provisions, were inapplicable. Thus, all of the franchisees’ twenty-six causes of action based on their home state laws were dismissed. Momentum Marketing Sales & Services, Inc. v. Curves International, Inc., Bus. Franchise Guide (CCH) ¶ 14,047 (W.D. Tex. Dec. 17, 2008).

Franchisor Prevails on Motion to Dismiss Out of State Law Claims
A federal court ruled that Texas law trumped out-of-state statutory claims asserted by franchisees, even in states whose franchise statutes contained anti-waiver provisions, dismissing the out-of-state claims based on the Texas choice of law provision in the franchise agreements and on the “most significant relationship” test contained in the Restatement (Second) of Conflicts of Law. Momentum Marketing Sales & Services, Inc. v. Curves Int’l, Inc., Business Franchise Guide (CCH), ¶14,047 (W.D. Tex. Dec. 17, 2008).

DDB Technologies, Inc. v. MLB Advanced Media, L.P. Case No. A 04 CA 352 Western District of Texas, Austin Division
Defense of Major League Baseball in a patent dispute over interactive features of its website. Summary judgment was granted for MLBAM. Plaintiff appealed to Federal Circuit, which reversed and remanded. The case ultimately settled on confidential terms involving transfer of patents.

Curves Wins Motion to Transfer from Florida to Texas Based on Forum Selection Clause
Prevailed on motion to transfer venue based on forum selection clauses of franchise agreements. Nina Moss, et al. v. Curves International, Inc.; Bus. Franchise Guide (CCH) ¶ 13, 638 (S.D. Fl. Apr. 18, 2007).

Memberships

  • Travis County Bar Association
  • Travis County Women Lawyers' Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Austin Young Lawyers Association

Online Publications

11/30/2008 - Hot Branding News Fall 2008
This edition includes articles such as "Courts Honor Contractual Choice of Law and Forum Provisions and Reject Public Policy Invalidation:  Curves Litigation", "Disability Law Expansion", "Identity Theft Red Flag Rules", and State and Global Updates.

06/28/2008 - Public Participation in Environmental Permitting and Enforcement Proceedings