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Food Network Sued by Reality Show Winner Over Yogurt Franchise

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on July 19, 2013 12:30 PM

Food Network has been sued and surprisingly, it doesn't involve Paula Deen. The network's reality show "Giving You the Business" doesn't really give you the business, claims a disgruntled contestant's new lawsuit.

In the show, which just wrapped up its first season, competing food service workers are put to the test with unexpected challenges in their eateries. The competitors do not know they are being filmed by hidden cameras -- and whoever out-performs the others wins his or her own franchise of the episode's featured restaurant.

But that's not what happened to winner Kris Herrera, his lawsuit claims.

Bitter Taste of Victory

Herrera, who won the May 23 episode featuring the New York frozen yogurt franchise 16 Handles, said he was repeatedly promised his own 16 Handles location.

But what did he end up with, according to his suit? A single, non-transferable, non-voting share of common stock in 16 Handles' parent company -- with no cherry on top.

Now Herrera is suing Food Network and parent Scripps Networks, 16 Handles' founder and parent companies Yogurt City and Yo Fresh, along with the show's producer Cineflex, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Just Desserts?

Herrera is claiming breach of contract, fraud and violation of his right to privacy and publicity. The complaint states he "would have never allowed the episode that showed him in situations of embarrassment, ridicule, defamation and false light to air" if he knew he was only going to get a very limited type of stock.

Unfortunately for Herrera, he signed a release form. Herrera likely waived or transferred most of his legal rights when he signed the release.

But Herrera claims the release form "was a condition to his being awarded his very own franchise store." Representatives of Food Network declined to comment to The Hollywood Reporter.

If Food Network misrepresented the truth to Herrera and he relied on that misrepresentation when signing the release, then a court may indeed find the release unenforceable. That would bring him one step closer to getting what he thought he'd get: a franchise location.

"I feel like it's a total fraud. They lied to me and they are lying to the American public," Herrera said in a statement. "Every week dozens of people come into the store and congratulate me on winning my own franchise store. They don't know all I got was the shaft."

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