Latest legal blow to Tully’s Coffee comes from … Daytona Speedway

Filing eviction lawsuits against the parent company of Tully’s Coffee, Global Baristas, has almost become a cottage industry. Last month alone brought five.

As if the shriveling company needed any further entanglements, a case involving far more money than any of those suits has popped up from a place where Tully’s has no stores — Florida.

Daytona International Speedway went to federal court in Orlando last week to confirm an arbitration award of more than $760,000 against Global Baristas.

Michael Avenatti, the Los Angeles lawyer who led an acquisition of the Tully’s chain from bankruptcy in 2013 and recently has become famous for representing porn star Stormy Daniels, has another side gig as a race-car driver.

A Sports Illustrated article last month, touting his aggressive lawyering against President Donald Trump, pictured Avenatti in a Tully’s racing suit and the company logo prominently displayed on his race car. His quote: “Once you’ve driven 190 miles per hour in the pouring rain, in the middle of the night, down the Mulsanne Straight with prototype cars whizzing by you at 240-plus miles per hour… compared to that, what I’m doing right now is a warm-up lap.”

The Speedway and Avenatti announced a deal in late 2015 for Tully’s to open a 650-square-foot store as part of a nearly completed $400 million redevelopment of the racing venue. The announcement also said Tully’s “will become the official coffee of the ‘World Center of Racing.'”

The racing venue’s lawsuit includes a mostly redacted copy of their contract, signed by Avenatti as “sponsor.” What the contract involved is unclear.

Benjamin Odom, deputy legal counsel for the Speedway’s parent company, declined comment on its claim.

Tully’s spokeswoman Suzy Quinn did not respond to a request for comment.

The roughly 15 remaining Tully’s stores, all in the greater Seattle area, closed a month ago. Spokeswoman Quinn said it was the start of a lengthy “rebranding process” but internal memos described it as an unplanned crisis after its coffee supplier cut it off.

The company also is fighting a lawsuit from the powerful Keurig Green Mountain coffee conglomerate that owns the Tully’s trademark and says Tully’s has lost rights to the name because it owes two years of licensing fees.

Eviction suits filed since March 1 named the Tully’s locations on Alki Avenue Southwest, Union Station and 201 S. Jackson St. in Seattle, as well as the Pickering Corner location in Issaquah and the Main Street site in Bellevue.

This past week the tullyscoffeeshops.com website, which had listed more than a dozen local stores, went dark as well. According to a notice from domain name registrar Network Solutions, the domain “expired on 04/02/2018 and is pending renewal or deletion.”

By Rami Grunbaum, The Seattle Times

 

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