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Wayzata Nissan, LLC v. Nissan North America, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

June 15, 2015

Wayzata Nissan, LLC, Appellant,
v.
Nissan North America, Inc., Respondent, Stephen J. McDaniels, et al., Respondents

Page 76

Hennepin County District Court File Nos. 27-CV-14-12789 and 27-CV-14-1.

Affirmed; motion denied.

SYLLABUS

When a new motor vehicle dealership[1] is sold and then relocated to a location less than five miles from its original location and more than five miles distant from another dealer of the same line make, the safe-harbor provision of the Minnesota Motor Vehicle Sale and Distribution Act, Minn. Stat. § 80E.14, subd. 1 (2014),[2] is applied at the time of the relocation. Relocation of a newly-acquired dealership within the safe-harbor provision requires neither notice to another dealer in the relevant market area nor a good-cause hearing.

For Appellant: Christopher W. Madel, Aaron R. Thom, Nicole S. Frank, Robins Kaplan, LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For Nissan North America, Inc., Respondent: John Rock, Bruce L. Gisi, Rock Law LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Brandon L. Bigelow (pro hac vice), Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Boston, Massachusetts.

For Stephen J. McDaniels, et al., Respondents: Lawrence R. Commers, Timothy J. Grande, Patrick C. Summers, DeWitt, Mackall Crounse & Moore S.C., Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Rodenberg, Presiding Judge; Johnson, Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.[*]

OPINION

Page 77

RODENBERG, Judge

Appellant Wayzata Nissan, LLC challenges the district court's denial of a temporary restraining order against respondents Stephen McDaniels, EP Motors, Inc., McEP Investments, LLC, and Nissan North America, Inc., seeking to enjoin relocation of a Nissan dealership to a new location within ten miles of appellant's existing dealership. Because the relocating dealer meets the requirements of the safe-harbor provision of Minn. Stat. § 80E.14, subd. 1, we affirm.

FACTS

This appeal arises from the sale of a Bloomington Nissan dealership to McDaniels,[3] facilitated by respondent Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan NA), a Nissan manufacturer, with the intention of relocating the dealership to Eden Prairie to a new location within ten miles of appellant's existing Nissan dealership.

Sale of Feldmann Nissan

Feldmann Imports, Inc. (Feldmann) operated a Nissan dealership in Bloomington. On March 21, 2014, Feldmann executed an asset purchase agreement (APA) with Lupient Automotive Group, Inc. to sell the dealership. Feldmann conditioned the sale on the purchaser relocating the dealership to Eden Prairie, as Feldmann planned to use the existing Bloomington facility for other ventures. On April 15, 2014, Nissan NA (a manufacturer of new motor vehicles, with multiple Minnesota franchises) exercised its right of first refusal, stepping into the shoes of the purchaser under the APA. On May 2, 2014, Nissan NA assigned its rights to McDaniels. On July 28, 2014, McDaniels entered into an APA with Feldmann to purchase the dealership and relocate it to Eden Prairie.

Appellant, which operates a Nissan dealership in Wayzata, learned of the potential sale of Feldmann's dealership and, on May 1, 2014, ...


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