General Liability/Catastrophic Injury

Restaurants, Retail & Hospitality

Thompson Coe understands the unique issues that face companies involved in the hospitality industry, and represent them in all types of disputes in state and federal courts across the nation. Our work with leading national insurers means we offer reliable defense when our clients are confronted by litigation and reputation damaging claims involving anything from simple premises liability to bet-the-company lawsuits. And we advise on ongoing operational issues involving employment law, franchising and other business concerns.

Operational Litigation

Lawsuits alleging illness or personal injury are an unavoidable fact of business for restaurants and other hospitality companies. The firm regularly defends hotels, restaurants, and sports and entertainment venues in a wide variety of premises liability actions, including claims for slip/trip-and-fall, criminal conduct of third parties on the premises, negligent security claims, and claims involving food borne illness. Thanks to our extensive insurance defense and product liability practices, we have unsurpassed skill at preventing spoliation of evidence and preserving the injury or damage scene, working to secure access before evidence is destroyed. Such effectiveness is often the key to securing summary judgment dismissal of claims, or reaching an advantageous settlement.

Liquor Liability

Thompson Coe successfully defends bars, taverns, hotels, and other social organizations against claims from third-parties for injury or death from the sale of alcohol to intoxicated patrons or minors. The firm has been successful in dispositive motions involving dram shop liability, and seek cost-effective dispositive motions whenever possible. Our attorneys effectively negotiate low settlements in cases involving serving alcohol to underage persons.

Franchising Issues

Thompson Coe has a practical understanding of the complex financing, development, operational and litigation issues that restaurant franchisors face. We serve as general counsel to a major nationwide franchisor of pizza restaurants, and have played a key role in structuring its franchising documents to accommodate the legal requirements of states from the East Coast to California. We help our client work with franchisees on the legal implications of employment, financing and dispute resolution, and are available to resolve controversies that arise in franchisor-franchisee relations.


Thompson Coe has a well-established team of attorneys who have successfully defended hotels, restaurants, and sports and entertainment venues in a wide variety of construction projects. The team has defended cases involving alleged design and construction defect, and construction fee disputes. The firm's construction defect lawyers have tried cases in virtually every area of construction in commercial projects.

Our attorneys also have demonstrated experience in the interpretation and litigation of claims arising out of indemnity agreements and additional insured endorsements, as well as expansion projects, real estate disputes, disputes surrounding construction of franchised establishments, disputes with franchisors, disputes between owners, tenants, contractors and suppliers and generally in the context of contract negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and litigation.

Labor & Employment

Our Labor & Employment attorneys represent our hospitality clients in all phases and types of employment litigation, counseling, and training, particularly in the areas of immigration law compliance, union avoidance, and harassment or discrimination complaints.

Other Business Law Services

Our services to restaurant and hospitality clients include such general corporate work as finance, tax counsel, and company and division acquisitions and sales. We also advise on more specialized issues involving:

  • Real estate purchases, sales and leasing
  • Intellectual property (protecting trademarks, copyrights, and service marks) and related issues in marketing and franchising activities
  • Tax counsel, particularly with regard to franchise taxation
  • Contracts with vendors and suppliers, and related pricing and antitrust issues.

Industry Knowledge

Whether the challenge involves complex litigation, multi-state franchising laws or everyday operational issues, Thompson Coe understands the restaurant, hotel and hospitality industry’s needs. Some of our clients have well-known brand names, others are leaders in the behind-the-scenes operations of distribution and supply. All rely on our strong business, dispute resolution and insurance capabilities to help them manage risks and pursue opportunities in this highly visible and competitive business sector.