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Indiana Judge Dismisses Jared’s Ex-Wife’s Lawsuit against Subway, Citing Venue

An Indiana judge dismissed a lawsuit last week that had been filed against Subway sandwich chain by the former wife of its imprisoned pitchman Jared Fogle citing improper venue. The suit claimed that Subway executives knew of Jared's exploitation of underage girls, but failed to investigate, and then commercially promoted him as a "family man," depicting him, his wife and two children in a marketing campaign.

Boone County Judge Matthew Kincaid granted Subway's motion to dismiss after hearing arguments on September 19, 2017 in the lawsuit, Kathleen McLaughlin v. Doctor's Associates, Inc. d/b/a Subway; Franchise World Headquarters, LLC; Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, Ltd., citing "a lack of personal jurisdiction." The court order explained that the Subway entities have principal business operations outside Indiana and were formed in Connecticut and Florida. He added, "Each has a principal place of business in another state besides Indiana."

Judge Kincaid said McLaughlin's complaint, in support of several tort theories, "alleges that Subway learned of Mr. Fogle's sexual interest in children, made no report of it, hatched a plan to secretly rely upon Ms. McLaughlin (effectively use her) to 'ground' their valuable pitchman, created a campaign depicting a wholesome narrative of Mr. Fogle's life and emergence as a family man, produced the 'Jared's Journey' commercial, and placed it, without proper authorization, on national television." He surmised, "The problem is that all of those things, if they happened, took place outside of Indiana."

Kathleen "Katie" McLaughlin had been married to Fogle for five years prior to his conviction in November 2015. The October 24, 2016 lawsuit alleges that Subway's ambition for sales and growth came at the expense of his wife and children. The former school teacher claims that Subway executives were notified at least three times of Jared's misconduct, once in 2004 when Subway's senior vice president of marketing was told that Fogle approached a young girl for a sex act at a Subway event in Las Vegas. Subway sent a public relations manager to ask Fogle and the franchisee about the incident, but did not contact the girl and did nothing more.

The second incident happened in 2008 when Cindy Mills, a franchisee in Florida, told Subway CEO Jeff Moody that she had a disturbing conversation with Fogle in which he told her he had sex with minors and "liked them young." Mills alleges that Moody told her, "Please don't tell me anymore. Don't worry, he has met someone. She is a teacher and he seems to love her very much, and we think she will keep him grounded." The lawsuit reports a third incident, one in 2011 when a Florida journalist made a complaint through Subway's website, reporting that Fogle told her he was interested in children.

Judge Kincaid was not convinced by McLaughlin's lawsuit claims. "Assuming, for argument's sake, that Ms. McLaughlin and her children suffered injury in Indiana because of Subway's callousness at the foreseeable impact upon their lives from their husband/father being exposed as a pedophile—it was Subway who heightened Ms. McLaughlin and her children's public renown and exposure by depicting them in their national ad—there is still no showing that Subway directed conduct toward Indiana." He wrote, "Indiana is not a focal point of the Subway defendants' alleged conduct."

The judge concluded in his order, "Ms. McLaughlin will have to pursue these claims in another court with personal jurisdiction over the Subway defendants."

Fogle became Subway's spokesperson in January 2000 after the fast food chain discovered he had lost 200 of his 420 pounds, partly from eating a steady diet of its sandwiches at the Bloomington, Indiana Subway during college. Fogle appeared in television commercials and traveled for the franchisor giving talks on the benefits of fitness and health. By 2013, the Subway pitchman had appeared in more than 300 television ads. Fogle had a net worth of $15 million, according to New York Daily News.

FBI agents arrested Fogle on July 7, 2015 after agents stormed his affluent home in Indiana and removed documents, computers and DVDs as part of their investigation. His two young children were at home during the raid. After pleading guilty, the disgraced celebrity was sentenced on November 11, 2015, and is serving his 15-year, 8-month sentence at a federal prison in Englewood, Colorado for distributing child pornography and having commercial sex with a minor.

Fogel was sentenced in November 11, 2015. As part of his plea deal prior to his incarceration, federal agents issued a formal order against Fogle allowing them to seize $50,000 in lieu of taking his criminal case to trial. His plea also included $1.4 million in restitution to 14 female victims, some as young as 13. Last month, federal agents ordered Fogle to pay the $50,000 to avoid officials seizing vehicles that he used in committing his sexual crimes, and other personal property or assets.


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About Janet Sparks

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Public Profile

Janet Sparks is the former publisher of the Continental Franchise Review, an industry newsletter that covered the franchise community for over 30 years. She has also been a columnist for a leading franchise magazine for the past 13 years. Today she is an independent journalist who engages in investigative reporting, tackling complex issues that impact the franchise industry.

Janet can be reached at jsparks@bluemaumau.org or at 303-799-7398.