John Deere Appeals Inclusion In Auto Dealer Protection Law
Concord— John Deere and other farm and heavy equipment manufacturers told the New Hampshire Supreme Court on Thursday that a new state law looping them into protections designed for automobile and truck dealers unconstitutionally interferes with their existing and future contracts with dealers.
Lawyers for John Deere and the state faced off over the so-called Auto Dealers Bill of Rights law, which lawmakers expanded to encompass manufacturers of tractors and yard and garden equipment.
“It protects dealers and, I would argue, it hurts consumers,” attorney Gordon MacDonald, representing John Deere, told the court. Because the law is retroactive, it affects every existing contract the company has with dealers, he said.
Assistant Attorney General Francis Fredericks argued that the new law is a merger of laws that previously dealt separately with automobile manufacturers and farm and tractor manufacturers. The new law bars manufacturers from terminating contracts with dealers without just cause and places the burden on the manufacturers to justify any terminations.
“It’s about the regulation of a relationship,” Fredericks told the justices.
“Termination is the overriding issue,” said attorney Gregory Holmes, arguing in support of the law on behalf of Frost Farm Service of Greenville, N.H., an intervener in the case.
MacDonald argues that that undermines the essence of Deere’s contracts with its dealers.
“We agree with the dealers to sell certain products, where they can sell them and who can sell them,” MacDonald argued, saying provisions of the new law violate constitutional protections.
Attorney Brian Cullen, representing Kubota Tractor Corp., said the law amounts to “a hostile takeover” of the industry.