Auto Franchise Dealer Termination Claim Permitted to Proceed

Jun 9, 2019 - Judge’s Distribution and Franchise Rulings from the Front Lines by |

Auto Franchise Dealer Termination Claim Permitted to Proceed By: Jeffrey M. Goldstein Judicial Update — Nissan N. Am., Inc. v. Tillman, No. 2018-CC-00462-SCT, 2019 Miss. LEXIS 220 (June 6, 2019) In a recent case, the Supreme Court of Mississippi ruled that in an auto franchise dealer termination dispute between an automobile dealer and an automobile manufacturer the dealership had timely filed a complaint under the Mississippi Dealership Act after the auto franchisee received the auto manufacturer’s letter providing notice that the dealership was being terminated. The MDA has two provisions applicable to the dispute: first, the MDA statute requires an auto manufacturer seeking to terminate a dealer agreement to provide a notice of termination to is vehicle dealer at least sixty days before the effective date of the termination; and, second, another statutory provision provides a dealer an opportunity to challenge a notice of termination by filing a verified complaint with the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission “within the sixty-day notice period.” In this case, because the parties’ franchise agreement required ninety days’ notice before a termination, the franchisor Nissan served the 90-day notice on November 23, 2016. In turn, the franchisee car dealership filed its complaint on February 17, 2017; although the dealership’s filing was within the 90 days period it was not within the initial 60 days period following service of the notice. The Motor Vehicles Board, in dismissing the franchisee’s complaint as untimely, framed the issue as: “does the statutory language ‘within the sixty-day notice period’ refer to the […]

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