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Auto Dealer Industry Group

Through the talents of a dedicated and experienced team of attorneys, Plunkett Cooney’s Auto Dealer Industry Group provides a wide range of legal services to automobile, truck and motorcycle dealers to help them sustain and grow their business.

The Auto Dealer Industry Group utilizes a team approach to servicing the unique issues auto dealers face in business. They provide high quality, efficient and cost-effective legal representation and advice to dealers throughout the states of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.

Below is an overview of just some of the many legal services Plunkett Cooney’s Auto Dealer Industry Group provides to its dealer clients.

Factory Issues

At the heart of any auto dealer’s business is its franchise agreement. Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys understand all facets of franchise law, including the dealer’s rights and remedies under such agreements, as well as the state and federal laws that govern franchise agreements.

The dealership business is challenging for many reasons, not the least of which is a seemingly endless and ever-changing list of requirements and demands imposed by manufacturers. When these requirements violate your sales and service agreement or your rights under state and federal law, you need experienced attorneys who can protect your dealership’s interests. Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys have represented dealers in state and federal litigation against auto manufacturers and are also experienced in representing dealers in alternative dispute resolution settings required by some franchise agreements and statutes.

Whether complying with provisions of the Indiana Dealer Rights Act, Michigan’s complex licensure requirements, Ohio’s tough Lemon Law provisions or the Federal Dealer Day in Court Act, Plunkett Cooney is your go-to law firm for franchise-level legal support.

Dealership Sales & Acquisitions

Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys are well-versed in negotiating and closing dealership purchases and sales, including asset and stock transactions. They provide counsel and advice regarding the transfer, assignment or assumption of various agreements, including those pertaining to consignment sales, manufacturers, lenders, and other vendors used by a dealer.

In addition, Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys routinely review and provide advice to their dealership clients with respect to manufacturer sales and service agreements. They also assist with due diligence reviews, and they provide analysis and advice in dealership tax and valuation issues.

Finance & Insurance Issues

While a dealership’s Finance and Insurance Department can be an excellent profit center, this area can also become the point of origin for costly, brand sensitive and time consuming litigation, including class actions. Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys are available to review and revise your dealership’s internal finance and insurance policies, procedures and practices in order to reduce this risk.

Should litigation arise, the members of Plunkett Cooney’s Dealership Industry Group defend the interests of their clients in finance and insurance-related disputes, including state and federal litigation through trial and appeal.

Dealership clients have asked Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys to proactively review, negotiate and revise their various lender agreements. The firm also provides defense representation on behalf of dealers who become entangled in litigation involving “Non-Recourse” finance agreements and other finance and insurance-based disputes under federal statutes such as the Truth in Lending Act, Consumer Leasing Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.

Consumer Disputes & Litigation

Despite their best efforts and practices, auto dealers must inevitably respond to formal complaints and litigation initiated by customers. Plunkett Cooney’s Auto Dealer Industry Group includes attorneys with extensive experience litigating and resolving such claims.

This area of litigation involves any number of allegations made under the auspices of consumer protection statutes or common law causes of action, ranging from the defense of matters in small claims court to complex federal class actions. Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys also defend dealers that become entangled in state investigations and formal inquiries initiated by consumer protection groups like the Better Business Bureau, as well as state regulatory agencies.

Reducing the risk of exposure from such matters is possible with well-crafted deal documents. Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys are experienced in both reviewing and drafting forms for use by dealers in their business.

Employment Law Counsel & Representation

Like all businesses, dealerships require counsel and advice regarding employee handbooks, disciplinary situations and representation in administrative hearings. Plunkett Cooney’s Auto Dealer Industry Group includes the talents of experienced attorneys who have helped numerous clients successfully navigate the complex and often intersecting areas of state and federal employment law.

Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys have extensive experience in reviewing and drafting employer policies and procedures and employee handbooks. They also protect the interests of their clients through the proactive use of non-compete, confidentiality and severance agreements. Plunkett Cooney’s Auto Dealer Industry Group members also routinely appear on behalf of their clients before regulatory agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

When issues proceed to litigation, Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys are available to assist with any number of employment-related claims, including cases of alleged discrimination, wrongful termination and hostile work environment. Our attorneys also represents clients within the organized labor setting, providing assistance with union campaigns, representation elections, collective bargaining, grievances and, when necessary, representation before the National Labor Relations Board.

Business Planning

Like any business, proper planning for auto dealers is a key to mitigating risk and positioning for long-term success. The members of Plunkett Cooney’s Auto Dealer Industry Group are keenly aware that a dealership business can provide a multi-generational endeavor. Proper business, estate and succession planning is a key to protecting a dealership. 

Plunkett Cooney’s transactional attorneys work with their clients to issue-spot, to develop growth strategies and to review and revise important corporate agreements, including but not limited to, pre-organization agreements, buy/sell contracts, shareholder agreements, employee ownership/buyout agreements, succession planning materials, voting agreements, stock options and warrants.

Additionally, Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys help address important business issues related to corporate governance, tax law (including administrative tax appeals and tax litigation), vendor relations and estate and succession planning. They are also well-versed in protecting dealership intellectual property assets, such as trademark, copyright and brand image protection on the Internet, including cybersquatting and online data security breaches.

Regulatory Compliance & BHPH/LHPH Counsel

Plunkett Cooney’s Auto Dealer Industry Group provides counsel and guidance to dealers on a wide variety of regulatory compliance issues. As dealers are well aware, state and federal regulation touches every aspect of a dealership’s business from the approval of a franchise and state licensing, to the hiring of employees,  to advertising and sale of vehicles and through the sale transfer or closing of a point. At every stage, state and federal regulations must be followed.

The Auto Dealer Industry Group can assist with every department of your dealership, including, sales, service, parts, F & I, office and body shop. Plunkett Cooney’s attorneys have both drafted and reviewed compliance policies and procedures for advertising issues, cash reporting requirements, truth in lending/leasing, financial privacy and safeguards, advertising standards and Buy Here/Pay Here and Lease Here/Pay Here protocols and forms.

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