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Phone: (612) 286-0505

Fax: (612) 601-8955

 

825 Nicollet Mall, Suite 1720

Minneapolis, MN 55402

This website provides general information about Thom Ellingson PLLP. It does not create an attorney-client relationship, and should not be relied on as legal advice.

 

©  Thom Ellingson, PLLP

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Automotive Dealer Law

On behalf of our auto-dealer clients, our legal team handles disputes and assists with decisions that make or break a dealer’s business. Among these matters are franchise disputes, disagreements with manufacturers, and customer complaints. We not only handle issues after they become problematic for our dealer clients, but we also help to advise and draft agreements and documents so that we are able to prevent problems from arising in the future.

 

We have advised and assisted dealer clients facing the issues such as the following:

  • Termination. Threats or attempts by the manufacturer to terminate the dealer’s franchise agreement.

  • Relocation and/or add point or open point. Manufacturer’s decision to relocate or introduce a dealership in close proximity to an existing dealer.

  • Right of first refusal. Manufacturer’s attempt to block a dealer’s sale of its dealership to a selected purchaser and instead convey the dealership to the manufacturer’s preferred candidate.

  • Assigned-market-area disputes. Contesting the reasonableness of a manufacturer’s assignment of a specific area of responsibility to a dealer.

  • Manufacturer metrics/programs. Means selected by manufacturers to measure and incentivize dealer performance—measures and incentives that may impact similarly situated dealers differently.

  • Customer complaints. Demands by customers for correction or remediation of alleged dealer mistakes or errors.

  • Compliance. General compliance and best-practices procedures for employee agreements, wage and hour issues, and other general business matters.

We also regularly consult or associate with other attorneys across the country already representing dealers. These attorneys may have advised their dealer clients for years on transactional or compliance-related matters, and we are able to contribute our trial expertise and knowledge of the unique legal issues facing dealers when termination is threatened or litigation needs arise. 

Representative Cases*

  • Represented a Nissan dealer in litigation against manufacturer Nissan North America. When Nissan attempted to relocate another Nissan dealership into our client’s statutory “relevant market area,” our client moved for injunctive relief and a hearing at which Nissan would be required to demonstrate good cause for the encroachment. After the trial court denied our client’s request for relief, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed in a published opinion, Wayzata Nissan, LLC v. Nissan N. Am., Inc., 865 N.W.2d 75 (Minn. Ct. App. 2015), the Minnesota Supreme Court granted review and reversed the Court of Appeals, recognizing the right of our client—and Minnesota dealers generally—to statutory protection against manufacturer overreaching. Wayzata Nissan, LLC v. Nissan N. Am., Inc., 875 N.W.2d 279 (Minn. 2016).

  • Represented a dealer in a right of first refusal case where the dealer had arranged for sale of his dealership when the manufacturer intervened and attempted to cause the dealership to be sold to a buyer of its choosing. During litigation, the parties reached a favorable settlement that allowed the dealer to pursue his sale as intended.

​ *Each case is unique. Past results do not predict future outcomes.