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Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, Inc., et al. v. Tesla Motors MA, Inc., et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-163-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11545   MASSACHUSETTS STATE AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSOCIATION, INC., & others[1]  vs.  TESLA MOTORS MA, INC., & another.[2] Norfolk.     May 6, 2014. – September 15, 2014.   Present:  Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.     Motor Vehicle, Dealer.  Consumer Protection Act, Motor vehicle franchise, Standing.  Practice, Civil, Standing.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on October 16, 2012.   A motion to dismiss was heard by Kenneth J. Fishman, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Thomas S. Vangel (James F. Radke with him) for Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, Inc., & others. Richard P. Campbell for the defendants. John E. Kwoka, Jr., pro se, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.     BOTSFORD, J.  In Beard Motors, Inc. v. Toyota Motor Distribs., Inc., 395 Mass. 428 (1985) (Beard Motors), this court held that a Massachusetts motor vehicle dealer did not have standing to maintain an action for an alleged violation of G. L. c. 93B, § 12A, against a motor vehicle distributor with which it was not affiliated.  In the case before us, the principal question is whether amendments to the statute in 2002 broadened the scope of standing under c. 93B, such that Massachusetts motor vehicle dealers now have standing to maintain an action for an alleged violation of the statute against unaffiliated motor vehicle manufacturers or distributors.  We hold that the 2002 amendments did not have this effect.  Chapter 93B is aimed primarily at protecting motor vehicle dealers from injury caused by the unfair business practices of manufacturers and distributors with which they are associated, generally in a franchise relationship.  We therefore affirm the judgment of the Superior Court dismissing the plaintiffs’ action on the basis of lack of standing. Procedural background.  The plaintiff Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, Inc. (MSADA), is a Statewide organization that represents the interests of new automobile and truck franchised dealerships in Massachusetts; two of the other plaintiffs, Connolly Buick Co., Inc., doing business as Herb Connolly Chevrolet, and Jake Kaplan’s Inc., doing business as Fisker Norwood, are Massachusetts motor vehicle dealers.  The plaintiffs commenced this action against Tesla Motors, Inc., an automobile manufacturer, and its Massachusetts subsidiary, Tesla Motors MA, Inc., alleging that the defendants were operating “an automobile dealership showroom in the Natick Mall without a license […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - September 16, 2014 at 12:27 am

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