Dutch Miller sues Suzuki for canceling contract

By Cara Bailey | Apr 9, 2007

HUNTINGTON - A Cabell County auto dealership is suing the Suzuki Corporation after the manufacturer canceled the contract for the dealership to sell the brand.

Attorney David Barnette, on behalf of Dutch Miller Enterprises Inc., filed a suit April 2 in Cabell Circuit Court against American Suzuki Motor Corporation.

Dutch Miller entered into a contract with Suzuki on Feb. 23, 2005. The contract allowed the dealership to sell the Suzuki brand. However, the lawsuit says the dealership did not sell enough of the brand, so ASMC notified Dutch Miller on Jan. 24, 2007, that the contract was canceled.

"Sales at Dutch Miller have not reached ASMC or Dutch Miller's expectations, and Dutch Miller is having difficulty penetrating the market," the suit says.

The termination is to become effective 120 days from Feb. 21, 2007.

According to the suit, grounds for the termination included Dutch Miller's failure to complete the "Suzuki Retail Brand Exterior and Interior Facility Image initiative," and the failure to complete required improvements according to the standard provisions of the dealer agreement.

However, in the suit Dutch Miller claims a copy of the standard provisions was not provided when the agreement was signed.

The suit says ASMC violated West Virginia Code that requires that a notice of termination provides all supporting documentation, which includes the standard provisions, which the dealership says it never received.

Also, the suit says ASMC canceled the contract because Dutch Miller failed to completely renovate the facilities and install new signs.

"Renovating the facilities and installing the required signage can only be done at a significant expense to Dutch Miller and is not currently economically practical," the suit says.

West Virginia Code states a manufacturer or distributor is prohibited from making any substantial alterations where to do so would be unreasonable. Dutch Miller claims their minimal market penetration and the fact ASMC required the dealership to completely renovate the facilities is unreasonable.

In a seven-count suit, Dutch Miller seeks to be awarded compensation to cover the expenses for ASMC's breach of contract.

The case has been assigned to Judge John L. Cummings.

Cabell Circuit Court case number 07-C-274

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