CONCORD, N.H. – The New Hampshire Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by national equipment manufacturers, led by John Deere, from overturning New Hampshire’s popular “Dealer Bill of Rights” law, after a nearly 2 year legal fight over the law. The law, which passed in 2013 with overwhelming support from state lawmakers and Governor Maggie Hassan, has been upheld by the justices of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
“The court’s rejection of the out of state manufacturer’s attempts to quash competition and squeeze dealers out of business is a win for consumers and small businesses,” explains Pete McNamara, president of the New Hampshire Auto Dealers Assn. “John Deere's constant strategy of intimidation failed to sway the courts just like it failed in the NH House and Senate, which almost unanimously endorsed adding equipment dealers to the long standing the dealer bill of rights law.”
John Deere and several other equipment manufacturers filed suit more than 2 years ago, tying up the new law, and hoping to strip the NH equipment dealers from the law’s protections. After oral arguments earlier this fall, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in favor of local auto, truck and farm equipment dealers in protecting the Dealer Bill of Rights. Only one issue was sent back to the lower court level for further examination while the rest of the claims were rejected.
“On behalf of the tens of thousands of people who work for franchised automotive dealerships around New Hampshire, I sincerely hope this is the final legal fight over this important law,” says McNamara. “In one fashion or another, these laws are on the books in virtually every other state in the country, and this is an unwarranted interruption of basic rights for those who work in New Hampshire’s auto, truck and farm equipment sales business every day.”
The “Dealer Bill of Rights” law offers a number of common sense protections for local business owners, such as requiring “good cause” before ending a dealer’s business, limits forcing dealers to sell their business, limits on mandatory upgrades to facilities, a buy local provision to save on expenses, and proper reimbursement for warranty work done by dealers. The law extends these provisions to construction and farm equipment dealers.
“The national manufacturers have had their day in court, just as they had their time in front of the general court in Concord,” says McNamara. “The debate is over.”
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