Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State ex rel. Missouri Automobile Dealers Association v. Missouri Department of Revenue

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division

December 5, 2017

STATE OF MISSOURI ex rel. MISSOURI AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSOCIATION, et al., Respondents,
v.
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE AND ITS DIRECTOR and TESLA MOTORS, INC., Appellants.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri The Honorable Daniel R. Green, Judge.

          Before Mark D. Pfeiffer, Chief Judge, and James Edward Welsh and Gary D. Witt, Judges.

          Mark D. Pfeiffer, Chief Judge.

         The Missouri Department of Revenue ("Department") and Tesla Motors, Inc. ("Tesla") appeal from the judgment entered by the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri, granting summary judgment in favor of Missouri Automobile Dealers Association ("MADA"), Reuther Ford, Inc. ("Reuther Ford"), and Osage Industries, Inc. ("Osage Industries") (collectively, "Plaintiffs") on their petition for declaratory judgment and writ of prohibition. The Department and Tesla each assert that the trial court erred in recognizing the Plaintiffs' standing and in finding that Tesla's application did not satisfy the requirements for a dealer license. Consistent with every appellate court ruling in the country that has addressed standing in similar Tesla license challenges in other states, we reverse and remand with directions that the trial court dismiss Plaintiffs' petition for lack of standing.

         Factual and Procedural History

         Tesla is a foreign corporation registered to do business in Missouri. Tesla manufactures motor vehicles and holds a manufacturer's license issued by the Department. Tesla submitted an application to the Department for a new motor vehicle dealer license. Tesla's application included a document titled "Franchise Agreement Confirmation, " which stated that Tesla Motors, Inc., as franchisor, authorized Tesla Motors, Inc. to sell Tesla vehicles. In April 2013, the Department issued to Tesla license number D649 for a Tesla dealership in University City, Missouri. In 2014, the Department issued to Tesla license number D270 for a Tesla dealership in Kansas City, Missouri.[1] Thereafter, the Department renewed these licenses.

         MADA is the largest professional association of motor vehicle dealers in Missouri. A MADA "franchise member" is a new motor vehicle dealer that has entered into a franchise agreement with a motor vehicle franchisor. Reuther Ford is a new motor vehicle dealer licensed by the Department and is a member of MADA. Osage Industries is a motor vehicle manufacturer, licensed as a manufacturer by the Department, and a member of MADA.

         On January 22, 2015, MADA, Reuther Ford, and Osage Industries filed a petition for declaratory judgment and writ of prohibition. The Plaintiffs asserted that Tesla failed to meet the statutory requirements for obtaining a new motor vehicle dealer license, citing Chapters 301 and 407 of the Missouri Revised Statutes. Plaintiffs also alleged that they were aggrieved as taxpayers because the Department had expended public taxpayer funds with regard to license number D649 and would continue to do so each year that Tesla applies for license renewal.

         On February 11, 2015, Tesla moved to intervene as a defendant/respondent. The trial court granted Tesla's motion on February 27, 2015.

         Both the Department and Tesla filed motions to dismiss for lack of standing, asserting that Plaintiffs lacked standing under Chapter 536 of the Missouri Administrative Procedures Act, and Plaintiffs lacked standing as economic competitors of Tesla and as Missouri taxpayers because they had no legally protectable interest at stake in the Department's decision to grant and renew Tesla's dealer licenses. The Department and Tesla also asserted that MADA lacked associational standing because none of its members had standing to bring the action. The trial court denied both motions without explanation.

         Thereafter, Plaintiffs, the Department, and Tesla each filed motions for summary judgment.

         On August 31, 2016, the trial court granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and again denied the Department's and Tesla's motions for summary judgment. In a footnote, the trial court denied the Department's challenge to Plaintiffs' standing in its motion for summary judgment with another cursory denial of the standing challenge without explanation.[2] The trial court entered a permanent writ of prohibition prohibiting the Department from: renewing Tesla's new motor vehicle dealer licenses; issuing any new motor vehicle dealer license to Tesla; and issuing or renewing any new motor vehicle dealer license to any entity that is not a franchisee or does not file a valid franchise agreement with the Department.

         The Department and Tesla each timely appealed, and this court ordered the cases consolidated.

         Analysis

         Point ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.