The Michigan Vehicle Dealers Act restricts the number of dealers that an automobile manufacturer may establish within a “relevant market area.” Under an earlier version of the MVDA, the “relevant market area” was a six-mile radius; now it is nine miles. In Lafontaine Saline v. Chrysler Group LLC, Chrysler entered a letter of intent (“LOI”) with a new dealer that was more than six miles but less than nine miles away from the plaintiff’s dealership. The plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment to prohibit the new dealership. This action was brought under the MVDA and, in order to have standing, the plaintiff had to prove that the new dealership was within the “relevant market area.” The defendant argued that since the LOI was a “dealer’s agreement” and was entered under the previous version of the MVDA, that the new dealership was not within the “relevant market area.” The Michigan Court of Appeals held that the LOI was not a “dealer agreement” because it dealt with the construction of the new dealership and not with the sales of vehicles. Therefore, the court found that another agreement would have to be entered in the future which would fall within the new amended statute. Accordingly, the court held that the new dealership would be within the “relevant market area” for purposes of the MVDA. The Michigan Supreme Court granted leave to consider “whether the Court of Appeals err in holding that the 2010 PA 139 definition of ‘relevant market area,’ MCL 445.1566(1)(a), applied to enable the plaintiff to challenge the future dealer agreement between the defendants under MCL 445.1576(3).”
In a separate order, the Court has also granted leave for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to file a brief amicus curiae.