In a decision that has ended a matter in its 8th year of litigation, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that a former Chrysler franchisee that lost a case five years ago and failed to appeal, cannot re-litigate the same issues. M&S attorneys Jay McKirahan and Patrick Skilliter represent the successful dealer, Fred Martin Motor Company. A copy of the Opinion is available here.
Following Chrysler’s bankruptcy reorganization in 2009, several rejected dealers took Chrysler to arbitration. Disputes arose between Chrysler and the rejected dealers over whether the arbitration allowed them to circumvent state dealer protest actions. In 2012, a Michigan federal court rebuffed a claim by Akron-based Spitzer Autoworld and held that Ohio’s dealer protect actions were still available. Spitzer did not appeal. Dealers from other states, however, appealed and were successful in having part of the trial court decision reversed. Spitzer claimed that, although it did not appeal the Michigan court’s decision, the federal court’s decision regarding Ohio law was no longer good law.
Instead of participating in dealer protest proceedings, Spitzer threatened to sue the State of Ohio in federal court. To prevent that threat from coming to fruition, Chrysler and Fred Martin asked the federal court to confirm, as it previously decided, that Ohio’s dealer protest laws applied to Spitzer. The federal court found Ohio’s laws remain valid and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
Citing cases dating back to 1931, the Sixth Circuit explained, “[p]ublic policy dictates that there be an end of litigation; that those who have contested an issue shall be bound by the result of the contest, and that matters once tried shall be considered forever settled as between parties.”
We couldn’t agree more.