October 19, 2018
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Federal court rejects lawsuit, allows Maine daycare center to stay open

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
U.S. District Court Judge Jon Levy is seen in this BDN file photo while previously serving on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

KENNEBUNK, Maine — A federal court ruled against a complaint filed by Toddle Inn Franchising, LLC that would have forced a new daycare opened July 30 in the former Toddle Inn Kennebunk location to close.

Kennebunk Children’s Academy, serving 140 children and 113 families, opened July 30. In its complaint filed on Aug. 1, Toddle Inn Franchising, LLC asserted that the owners of Kennebunk Children’s Academy had violated a non-competition clause in a former franchise agreement and had misappropriated a Toddle Inn system of running daycare centers.

U.S. District Court Judge Jon Levy ruled on Aug. 2 that the daycare center, Kennebunk Children’s Academy, which is located where the former Toddle Inn in Kennebunk operated at 8 Independence Drive, was to stay open. The court did not grant the request from Toddle Inn Franchising, LLC for a temporary restraining order for the Kennebunk Children’s Academy to cease its operations immediately, according to a press release from Nate Levesque spokesman for the law firm Eaton Peabody.

Kennebunk Children’s Academy owner Kathie Murphy is a former employee of Toddle Inn, and the complaint stated that the the new daycare center was using former Toddle Inn employees trained in the Toddle Inn system, as well as the same layout and furniture.

The court ruled that the franchise agreement expired in July 2016, and there was insufficient evidence that any Toddle Inn system had been misappropriated. The court also ruled that Toddle Inn’s requested relief of closing the Kennebunk Children’s Academy would likely disrupt the childcare arrangements of many families, according to Levesque.

“Having previously been in the Toddle Inn system, my mission with Kennebunk Children’s Academy is to create a daycare center that is very different from the Toddle Inn,” said Murphy, owner of Kennebunk Children’s Academy. “Our core mission is the children and their families. It begins and ends with them.”

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