BIRMINGHAM, Mich., Feb. 24 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network — Like so many other Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery franchisees, Jeff Spinello and Karen Hazlewood were first drawn to their investment by Kinkade’s artwork and the reputation of the “Painter of Light”. Kinkade and Media Arts, Inc. (Kinkade’s then
publicly-traded corporate franchisor) kept these themes alive throughout
Thomas Kinkade University, the mandatory, week-long presentation attended by
Jeff and Karen, and every other prospective Signature Gallery franchisee.
“Media Arts executives told us their company was different – that they did
business consistent with the faith-based mission of Thomas Kinkade,” Spinello
remarked, “They said they would support us as partners in spreading the light.
They said their business was blessed. It was such a scam.” Indeed, only a
few years after investing their life savings in required Signature Gallery
build-outs and vast quantities of Thomas Kinkade’s art, Spinello and Hazlewood
had lost everything.
These fortunes took a dramatic turn yesterday when a three member panel of
the American Arbitration Association, ruled against Thomas Kinkade’s Media
Arts Group, Inc. and one of its key executives, awarding Jeff Spinello and
Karen Hazlewood damages in an amount which, when interest, costs and fees are
calculated, will exceed $3.5 million. Norman Yatooma, of Norman Yatooma &
Associates, P.C, Birmingham, Mich., represented the pair in their suit. In
all, Mr. Yatooma represents 23 ruined Signature Gallery franchisees from 7
states in pending arbitration. While several other Signature Gallery
franchisees had sued Kinkade and Media Arts on the same legal theories (fraud,
bad faith, and state franchise statutory violations among others), Yatooma is
the first to declare victory.
For more information on this ruling, to view the full release, or to
interview Mr. Yatooma please contact Mr. Yatooma’s publicist, Adrienne Lenhoff
Wise at 248-366-0388 or email [email protected]
Birmingham, Michigan-based Norman Yatooma & Associates, P.C.
(http://www.normanyatooma.com) is a full-service law firm offering expertise in civil
and criminal cases in its Oakland, Macomb and Emmett County offices. The Firm
specializes in commercial litigation sounding in complex theories of contract
and tort liability including franchise, class action, business and real estate
Media Contact: Adrienne Lenhoff Wise
Shazaaam! Public Relations
email [email protected]