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Motor Vehicle Group

Getting results for our manufacturer clients

JMBM’s Motor Vehicle Group offers a complete range of legal services to motor vehicle manufacturers, distributors and finance affiliates.  

Dealer Disputes and Franchise Matters

Our attorneys have successfully handled all types of dealership disputes and franchise matters, including dealer terminations and relocations, new dealer establishments, dealership buy-outs, and protests before the California New Motor Vehicle Board. Our expertise often results in settlements that are very favorable to our clients.

We also assist clients in their ongoing franchise relationship with dealers by providing advice and helping clients structure their legal position to avoid litigation where possible, or position themselves appropriately if litigation should ensue. We regularly advise clients on motor vehicle franchise statutes throughout the United States.

Non-Franchise Litigation Matters

Our attorneys also handle civil litigation on behalf of motor vehicle manufacturers and distributors. For example, we recently obtained a very favorable outcome in a complex civil litigation matter in which the plaintiffs were asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. In another wide ranging multi-million dollar civil case against a motor vehicle client, we obtained a dismissal of the complaint with prejudice.

Employment Law Matters

Our attorneys represent motor vehicle manufacturers and distributors in all aspects of labor relations and employment law. Our expertise includes dealing with the complexity of employees and independent contractors of parent corporations outside the United States interacting with the employees and operations of the U.S. distribution subsidiaries.

Intellectual Property Matters

We have extensive experience in the clearance, registration, licensing and enforcement of trademarks and service marks on behalf of motor vehicle clients. We have been particularly effective assisting our clients with trademark compliance and vigilance programs, and the prevention of misuse and unauthorized use of trademarks by authorized dealers, non-authorized retailers such as used car dealers, repair shops, and other merchandisers. We also have an outstanding patent and patent litigation practice.

Wholesale and Retail Financing Matters

As counsel to several motor vehicle finance subsidiaries, we have extensive experience in the origination, servicing and enforcement of wholesale inventory financing (flooring), open account financing, and retail financing. We also advise our motor vehicle clients on advertising matters, conditional sale contracts under the California Automobile Sales Finance Act, Truth in Lending Act and Regulation Z, and motor vehicle lease transactions under the California Vehicle Leasing Act and Regulation M.

Real Estate Matters

We represent our motor vehicle clients in the acquisition, development, leasing and financing of dealership properties for factory site control. For example, our attorneys successfully closed a complex transaction for the acquisition, development, construction and leasing of a dealership facility in a city redevelopment project. That matter included negotiation and documentation for public entitlements, allocation of special taxes levied through a community facilities district, consents by a redevelopment agency, leases of land from public utility and county flood control districts, a ground lease with the proposed dealership entity, and agreements for the construction and eventual sale of the dealership facility and related improvements.

Transfers of Interests in Dealerships

We have worked extensively in assisting our motor vehicle clients with state law requirements throughout the United States in response to proposed transfers of interest in dealerships, including buy-outs and partial changes in ownership or management.

Warranties and Service Plans

Our attorneys successfully defended a motor vehicle manufacturer in a case of first impression before the Board, in which the protesting dealers alleged that our client’s warranty reimbursement program did not comply with the requirements of California law. We also advise our clients on numerous issues related to warranty work, warranty reimbursement, and the regulation of extended warranties and service plans under state laws.

All-State Surveys of Relevant Statutes

Over the years, we have done numerous all-state surveys of motor vehicle franchise statutes and state laws, including surveys relating to the interpretation of termination and repurchase provisions, restrictions on the rejection of proposed buy-out transactions, and other issues related to the motor vehicle franchise relationship. We have an excellent research staff, including full-time librarians who have conducted numerous all-state surveys and other research projects on behalf of our motor vehicle clients.

Business Transactions

We are also active in representing motor vehicle clients in a wide range of business transactions and other non-franchise matters. For example, we have worked extensively on sponsorship and licensing agreements, product loan and product placement agreements, OEM contracts and distribution agreements.


We have been involved in numerous troubled dealer cases, including enforcement of remedies relating to flooring lines of credit, complex restructuring of motor vehicle dealerships, and strategic operations of a dealership under receivership.

International Distribution

We have represented motor vehicle clients in international matters, particularly in Latin America. Many of our attorneys are multilingual and have used their language skills and experience with other cultures in successfully representing motor vehicle clients in matters related to international distribution, as well as other business transactions.

  • In a case brought before the New Motor Vehicle Board in Sacramento, JMBM partners successfully defeated a dealer's protest against the proposed establishment of a new Volkswagen dealership by the firm's client Volkswagen of America, approximately 5 miles from the protesting dealership. JMBM then defeated the dealer's appeal of the Board's decision, thus winning the […]
  • JMBM prevailed in a class action lawsuit brought against its client,Volkswagen of America, Inc. The plaintiff claimed injury because of a "Made in the U.S.A." designation on license plate frame holders. The lawsuit sought damages and injunctive relief. In dismissing the lawsuit, the Court applied recently-enacted language from Proposition 64 which limits a person's right […]
  • In recent Board protests that did not settle, we won a termination case, and a case that gave our client the right to establish a new dealership less than five miles from an existing dealership. In other recent cases, we obtained dismissals of two termination protests based upon the dealer's failure to comply with authorized […]