When Chrysler Group, LLC filed with the Montana Department of Justice, Motor Vehicle Division a notice of intent to establish an additional Chrysler-Jeep dealership in Billings, Lithia Motors, Inc. filed an administrative protest. The Department sustained Lithia’s protest. Rimrock Chrysler, Inc. sought judicial review, but the district court dismissed the petition on the grounds of mootness and lack of a justiciable controversy. While Rimrock’s appeal was pending, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that section 747 of the United States Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010 preempted state regulation of new dealerships issued under certain dealership protest laws. The Montana Supreme Court dismissed Rimrock’s appeal. On remand, Rimrock moved to vacate the Department’s administrative decision and to dismiss the the judicial review proceeding on the ground that section 747 preempted Montana dealer protest laws and deprived the state of subject matter jurisdiction to hear the administrative claim. The district court denied Rimrock’s motion and dismissed the appeal. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the district court’s order denying Rimrock’s motion to vacate and to dismiss, holding that Rimrock waived its section 747 preemption defense when it entered into the settlement agreement; and (2) reversed the district court’s order dismissing Rimrock’s petition for judicial review, holding that Rimrock’s petition involved a justifiable controversy, and the court erred in concluding otherwise. View "Rimrock Chrysler, Inc. v. Lithia Motors, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Montana Supreme Court, Transportation Law
The State brought a complaint against BNSF Railway Co. ("BNSF") in November 2009 seeking a declaratory judgment requiring BNSF to abide by the terms of a 1984 agreement between them and a declaration that BNSF was in violation of that agreement; specific performance by BNSF of the agreement, and damages for BNSF's alleged breach of the agreement. The State subsequently filed an application for a preliminary injunction in June 2010 to prohibit BNSF from terminating the payment to the State and its short line operator per loaded car for each car handled in interchanges as required by Section 9 of the agreement. At issue was whether the district court's order granting the preliminary injunction was an abuse of discretion. The court held that the district court manifestly abused its discretion in issuing the preliminary injunction where it went beyond the State's requested relief and effectively ordered specific performance on the agreement under new terms substantially different than the prior agreed upon terms which severely limited termination of the new interchange agreement and was never part of the 1984 or 1986 agreements. Accordingly, the court reversed the order and resolved the injunction, remanding for further proceedings.