Reno auto dealer wins 9-year legal battle with Ford Motors
RENO, Nev. — After a nine-year legal battle, Jones West Ford in Reno has won its fight to prevent the automaker from arbitrarily expanding its service area into California.
Ford Motors notified Jones West in December 2010 that it was adding Sierra County, California, to the Reno dealer’s responsibility.
Richard West protested, saying that would have a substantial adverse effect on the dealership’s obligations to provide sales and service support.
The Department of Motor Vehicles agreed with Jones West and also ruled that Ford Motors didn’t establish good cause for the expansion of the franchise’s territory.
The district court agreed, denying Ford’s petition for judicial review, and the automaker appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.
In an order issued this past week, the high court panel of Kris Pickering, Ron Parraguirre and Elisa Cadish agreed with the DMV and district court, finding the DMV reached a reasonable conclusion in finding that if responsibility for sales and service in Sierra County were added to Jones West’s territory, “it is reasonably certain that Jones West would suffer substantially adverse effects on its investment and sales and service obligations.”
The panel also ruled that substantial evidence supports that finding, including testimony by Lawrence Miles Jr. that the action would expose Jones West to increased legal and financial uncertainty including California tax liability.
Miles, the order says, has more than 35 years experience dealing with California’s motor vehicle regulations. He testified Jones West would have to make additional investment and incur more obligations, train personnel in California regulations and warranty laws.
The order also says Ford rejected an offer from Richard West to avoid litigation even though the automaker would not have suffered financially.
Finally, the high court affirmed the DMV and district court award of $1.4 million in attorney’s fees and $90,744 in costs to Jones West.
Bryan Wachter of the Retail Association of Nevada said his organization is “very concerned about disruptions to the supply chain.”