The Dealer Services Group of Duane Morris has won a major victory for a truck dealership client in a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, paving the way for the dealership's claims to be heard by a jury. The court decision is an important precedent that potentially provides protection to other dealerships facing discriminatory or unfair treatment.
In the case, the dealership claims that a truck manufacturer violated federal antitrust laws by participating in a scheme to use discriminatory treatment to drive it out of business. Among other things, the dealership claims that the manufacturer improperly manipulated the sales assistance system by systematically granting lower discounts to the dealership than to others and also by intentionally delaying the award of sales assistance to the dealership. The dealership is seeking treble damages of in excess of $30 million, as well as recovery of attorneys fees and litigation costs.
The Court of Appeals' decision overturns a lower court ruling that the dealership was not entitled to present its claims to a jury because it had waited too long to file suit after the claim arose. The Court of Appeals also reversed a lower court ruling that the dealership had not offered sufficient evidence supporting its claim to permit the claim to be submitted to the jury for deliberation. The appeals court ruled that a jury, not a judge, should analyze the evidence and make a decision on the dealership's antitrust claims. The appeals court also ruled that there was sufficient evidence of the scheme for a jury to find in the dealership's favor. The 53-page opinion in the case, Toledo Mack v. Mack Trucks, Inc., is available at http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/071811p.pdf.
This case offers a good example of the protection that may be available to dealers under federal and state laws when they believe they are faced with arbitrary or unfair treatment.
The case is being handled by Wayne A. Mack, who co-chairs the Commercial, Securities and Antitrust Litigation Group at Duane Morris, and J. Manly Parks, who chairs the Duane Morris Dealer Services Group. The case was argued before the Third Circuit by Robert L. Byer, head of the Appellate Litigation division of Duane Morris' Trial Practice Group.
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The Dealer Services Group is well versed in the laws that protect dealerships and can help dealers protect themselves against unfair or unlawful conduct that violates dealer rights at either the trial or appellate level.
Duane Morris offers a full range of legal services specifically for dealer clients. In addition to providing representation nationally in litigation before federal and state courts, and in arbitrations and mediations, Duane Morris attorneys advise dealer clients on labor and employment relations matters, environmental issues, buy-sell transactions, succession planning and small business counseling.
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