The Miller Law Firm, P.C. has a keen understanding of the issues facing today’s automotive industry, such as material price instability, volume fluctuations, threatened and actual production interruptions, pricing demands, warranty claims, and other supply chain disputes.
Our team provides a wide range of strategic services and offers practical and informed advice to help out clients in evaluating risk, resolving disputes without litigation, and positioning for success in the event litigation is necessary.
Please visit our Commercial Litigation page for more information regarding force majeure.
Trade Secrets, Breach of Contract, Tortious Interference
The Miller Law Firm, P.C. defended Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers in an $80 million arbitration claim brought by a Tier 2 supplier for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, theft, and tortious interference.
Result: The Miller Law Firm, P.C. obtained an arbitration award declaring that our clients were not liable on any of the claims and the claimant was awarded nothing.
Breach of Contract – Refused to honor fixed prices
Claim brought on behalf of our client for breach of contract against a raw material supplier who refused to honor purchase orders at agreed upon fixed prices.
Result: The Miller Law Firm, P.C. successfully proved liability against the raw material supplier at trial.
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) – Continue to Supply
The Miller Law Firm, P.C. obtained a TRO ordering a Tier 2 supplier to continue to supply at contract prices after it attempted to extract higher prices due to fluctuations in steel prices. The matter was tried on an expedited schedule and The Miller Law Firm, P.C. prevailed, saving millions for our client
The Miller Law Firm, P.C. represented a Tier 1 supplier who asserted a set off of over $700,000 for expedited supply charge-backs. Our Michigan automotive litigation attorney successfully obtained a total victory in favor of out client at arbitration, with the arbitrator validating the set off.
The Miller Law Firm, P.C. was retained by a Tier 1 supplier to analyze contract documents and assist the client in negotiations with an OEM customer, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in recovery for our client.
Unpaid Royalty Defense
The Miller Law Firm, P.C. defended a Tier 1 supplier sued by a vendor seeking millions of dollars in unpaid royalties. At trial, our lawyers demonstrated that the vendor paid secret kickbacks to a former employee of our client, resulting in a dismissal of the case and an award of costs and attorney fees.
The Miller Law Firm, P.C. is experienced with recovering tooling and other equipment wrongfully withheld by lower-tier suppliers on numerous occasions and has done so for numerous clients.
Examples of Our Automotive Litigation Results
The Miller Law Firm, P.C. has been successful in recovering over $30 million for several clients in processing claims related to class action settlements.
Expiration of Long Term Agreement – no obligation to ship after expiration
Our client was a party to a long-term supply agreement with an automotive first-tier supplier. The agreement expired, but the supplier failed to renew it despite repeated requests by our client. Yet, after the agreement expired, the supplier continued to request that our client ship parts at the prices set forth in the expired agreement.
Our client indicated that it was willing to continue to supply parts, but since the contract had expired, it was no longer willing to do so at the price that was previously agreed upon.
As a result, the supplier filed suit, and without giving our client any prior notice obtained a temporary restraining order requiring our client to continue to ship parts at the old price. Within 24 hours, our firm successfully persuaded the court to set aside the temporary restraining order. The supplier then capitulated to our client’s demands and signed a new supply agreement with favorable terms for our client.
Breach of Royalty Agreement/Outsourcing of Technology
Our client, a large automotive supplier, was sued for approximately $3 million in royalties allegedly owing for certain technology under a royalty agreement. The technology had previously been outsourced to one of our client’s suppliers, who assumed responsibility to pay the royalty on our client’s behalf. The supplier stopped paying the royalty when it learned that the plaintiff-inventor may have misrepresented its rights in the technology.
During the lawsuit, we discovered that the supplier had secretly made payments to a former employee of our client at the time he was employed by our client. The plaintiff and former employee denied that the payments were improper. They repeatedly swore that the monies were payment for unrelated consulting services performed on nights and weekends, and billed on an hourly basis.
However, at trial, we demonstrated that the plaintiff and former employee lied about their relationship. We established that nearly every payment the plaintiff made to the former employee was equal to 50 percent of each royalty payment paid by our client – not for hourly services.
During the plaintiff’s case-in-chief, we asked the Court to dismiss the case based on this perjured testimony. The Court granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiff’s case and awarding to our client its costs and lawyers’ fees necessitated by the fraud. The Court also referred the matter to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office for investigation of criminal perjury charges.
Supply and Asset Purchase Agreement – misrepresentations over equipment
Our client agreed to purchase all of the equipment from several manufacturing facilities owned by a large Tier-1 automotive supplier and to consolidate all of the equipment into one plant. As part of the transaction, our client also agreed to supply parts made on the equipment for a period of 10 years. After installing the equipment at significant time and expense, our client discovered that the seller vastly overstated the capabilities of the manufacturing process.
Our client declared the seller to be in breach of the various agreements and invoked a liquidated damages provision. The supplier filed suit and sought a preliminary injunction to force our client to continue to supply parts made on the equipment. At an evidentiary hearing in which the court heard witness testimony, we successfully defended the motion for an injunction.
We then persuaded the court to dismiss the case because the Tier-1 supplier had not complied with the alternative dispute resolution provision in the parties’ contract. As part of the alternative dispute resolution process, the parties reached a new agreement, with an estimated value added to our client of several million dollars.
Termination of letter agreement/subsequent purchase orders
Our client developed a marketing system to help new car dealers sell vehicle accessories to consumers. One OEM signed a letter committing that its dealers would purchase specific minimum quantities of the marketing system. It later issued a purchase order containing standard terms and conditions, including a provision purportedly giving the OEM the right to cancel the program at its “convenience,” and requiring the OEM to pay only for “completed goods” upon cancellation.
After the OEM’s dealers did not purchase the minimum requirements set forth in the letter, the OEM canceled the parties’ contract “for convenience,” and insisted it would only pay our client a nominal amount for unordered items, since it claimed none of the marketing materials were fully “completed.”
We argued that the OEM’s standard purchase order terms and conditions did not apply, and that it was required to pay lost profits for all unordered goods, whether “completed” or not. We obtained a very favorable settlement for approximately the full amount of lost profits our client would have realized had the dealers purchased all of the required merchandise.
Litigation Regarding the Production of Parts Under Every Available Legal Theory
Our client was sued by a tier-1 automotive supplier under a variety of legal theories (e.g., breach of contract; breach of express warranty; breach of implied warranty; negligence and fraud) for problems associated with the production of parts for a Ford Motor Company product. All of the varied legal theories against our client were dismissed pre-trial, and the only remaining theory to be tried before the jury was the tier-1 automotive supplier’s claim for breach of contract, and our client’s counterclaim for breach of contract. The jury dismissed the tier-1 automotive supplier’s claim and awarded our client hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Need legal assistance? Don’t hesitate to contact our Michigan automotive litigation lawyer now.