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Meineke Franchisees Awarded $601 Million

March 07, 1997|Times Staff and Wire Reports

A federal judge in Charlotte, N.C., has awarded Meineke muffler franchisees nearly $601 million in damages, one of the biggest awards of its kind, after a jury found Meineke had misused advertising fees, plaintiffs' lawyers said. The award, which tripled the original jury verdict of $197 million and added interest, was also one of the biggest awards against a British company in the United States, lawyers for the franchisees said. Meineke is owned by GKN, a maker of auto parts and other products, based in Britain. The 4-year-old lawsuit had accused Meineke, one of the nation's biggest muffler suppliers, of improperly taking millions of dollars for its own use from an advertising fund built up by the 2,500 franchisees.

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