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SENATE BILL NO. 367
INTRODUCED BY F. THOMAS, P. SLITER, S. ANDERSON, J. BOHLINGER, R. CLARK, M. COLE,
S. DOHERTY, D. GRIMES, L. GRINDE, M. HALLIGAN, D. HARRINGTON, J. HERTEL, G. JERGESON,
J. LYNCH, B. MCCARTHY, L. NELSON, K. OHS, B. PAVLOVICH, G. ROUSH, D. SHEA, S. STANG,
L. TAYLOR, J. TESTER
AN ACT REVISING AND CLARIFYING THE LAW GOVERNING NEW MOTOR VEHICLE DEALERS, MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS, AND CERTAIN OTHER PARTIES; AMENDING SECTIONS 61-4-201, 61-4-204, AND 61-4-208, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 61-4-201, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-201. Definitions. As used in this part, the following definitions apply:
(1) "Community" means the relevant market area of a franchise. For the purposes of this part, the relevant market area of a franchise is the county or counties in which the franchisee is located.
(2) "Distributor" or "wholesaler" means a person who sells or distributes new motor vehicles to new motor vehicle dealers in this state or who maintains distributor representatives in this state.
(3) "Distributor branch" means a branch office maintained or availed of by a distributor or wholesaler for the sale of new motor vehicles to new motor vehicle dealers in this state for directing or supervising its representatives in this state.
(4) "Factory branch" means a branch office maintained or availed of by a manufacturer for the sale of new motor vehicles to distributors or for the sale of new motor vehicles to new motor vehicle dealers in this state or for directing or supervising its representatives in this state.
(5) "Franchise" means a contract between or among two or more persons when all of the following conditions are included:
(a) a commercial relationship of definite duration or continuing indefinite duration is involved;
(b) the franchisee is granted the right to:
(i) offer, sell, and service in this state new motor vehicles manufactured or distributed by the franchisor; or
(ii) service motor vehicles pursuant to the terms of a franchise and a manufacturer's warranty;
(c) the franchisee, as
a an independent and separate business, constitutes a component of the franchisor's distribution
(d) the operation of the franchisee's business is substantially reliant on the franchisor for the continued supply of new motor vehicles, parts, and accessories.
(6) "Franchisee" means a person who receives new motor vehicles from the franchisor under a franchise and who offers,
sells, and services
such the new motor vehicles to and for the general public.
(7) "Franchisor" means a person who manufactures, imports, or distributes new motor vehicles and who may enter into a franchise.
(8) "Importer" means a person who transports or arranges for the transportation of a foreign manufactured new motor vehicle into the United States for sale in this state.
(9) "Manufacturer" means a person who manufactures or assembles new motor vehicles or who manufactures or installs on previously assembled truck chassis special bodies or equipment that, when installed, forms an integral part of the new motor vehicle and that constitutes a major manufacturing alteration, but does not include a person who installs a camper on a pickup truck.
(10) "New motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle that has not been the subject of a retail sale regardless of the mileage of the vehicle.
(11) "New motor vehicle dealer" means a person who buys, sells, exchanges, or offers or attempts to negotiate a sale or exchange or any interest in or who is engaged in the business of selling new motor vehicles under a franchise with the manufacturer of the new motor vehicles or used motor vehicles taken in trade on new motor vehicles.
(12) (a) "Retail sale" means the sale of a new motor vehicle.
(b) "Retail sale" does not mean a sale:
(i) of a new motor vehicle to a purchaser who is acquiring the vehicle for the purposes of a resale; or
(ii) that is the result of a transfer between two licensed new motor vehicle dealers."
Section 2. Section 61-4-204, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-204. Filing agreement -- product liability. (1) A franchisee
must shall, at the time he applies of application for
a new motor vehicle dealer license under the provisions of 61-4-101, file with the department a certified copy of his the
written agreement with a manufacturer and a certificate of appointment as dealer or distributor. The certificate of
appointment must be signed by an authorized agent of the manufacturer of domestic vehicles whenever there is a direct
manufacturer dealer agreement or by an authorized agent of the distributor whenever the manufacturer is wholesaling
through an appointed distributorship. The certificate must be signed by an authorized agent of the importer of foreign made
foreign-made vehicles whenever there is a direct importer-dealer agreement or by an authorized agent of the distributor
whenever there is an indirect distributor-dealer agreement. The distributor's certificate of appointment must be signed by an
authorized agent of the manufacturer of domestically manufactured vehicles or by an authorized agent of the manufacturer
or importer of foreign made foreign-made vehicles.
(2) A franchisee need not file a written agreement or certificate of appointment if the manufacturer on direct dealerships
or distributor on indirect dealerships or importer on direct dealerships uses the identical basic agreement for all its
franchised dealers or distributors in this state and certifies in the certificate of appointment that the blanket agreement is on
file and the written agreement with the particular dealer or distributor, respectively, is identical with the filed blanket
agreement and that
he the franchisee has filed with the department one such agreement together with a list of franchised
dealers or distributors.
(3) A manufacturer, distributor, or importer shall notify the department within 30 days of any revision of or addition to the basic agreement on file or of any franchise supplement to the agreement. Annual renewal of a certificate filed as provided in this section is not required.
(4) A manufacturer
must shall file with the department a copy of the delivery and preparation obligations required to be
performed by a dealer prior to the delivery of a new motor vehicle to a buyer. These delivery and preparation obligations
constitute the dealer's only responsibility for product liability as between the dealer and the manufacturer. Any mechanical,
body, or parts defects arising from an express or implied warranty of the manufacturer constitute the manufacturer's product
or warranty liability only ; provided, however, that. However, this section shall may not affect the obligations of new motor
vehicle dealers to perform such warranty repair and maintenance as that may be required by law or contract. Except as
regards household appliances, including but not limited to ranges, refrigerators, and water heaters, in a recreational vehicle,
as defined in 61-1-132, and except as regards a truck rated at more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, the
manufacturer must shall compensate an authorized dealer for labor, parts, and other expenses incurred by a dealer who
performs work to rectify the manufacturer's product or warranty defect or for delivery and preparation obligations at the
same rate and time the dealer charges to its retail customers for nonwarranty work of a like kind, based upon a published,
nationally recognized, retail flat rate labor time guide manual if the dealer uses the manual as the basis for computing
charges for both warranty and retail work.
(5) (a) All claims made by the dealer pursuant to this section for compensation for delivery, preparation, warranty, and recall service, including labor, parts, and other expenses, must be paid by the manufacturer within 30 days of receipt of the claim from the dealer, except that a manufacturer of a motor home, as defined in 61-1-130, shall pay any claim within 60 days of receipt from the dealer.
(b) If a claim is disapproved, the dealer must be notified in writing of the grounds for disapproval. A claim that has not been disapproved in writing within 30 days of having been received must be considered approved, and payment is due to the claimant immediately. However, the manufacturer retains the right to audit a claim for a period of 12 months following the payment of the claim.
(c) A claim that has been approved and paid may not be charged back to the dealer unless the manufacturer proves that:
(i) the claim was false or fraudulent;
(ii) the repairs were not properly made; or
(iii) the repairs were not necessary to correct the defective condition.
(d) A manufacturer may not deny a claim or reduce the amount to be reimbursed to the dealer if the dealer has provided reasonably sufficient documentation demonstrating that the dealer performed the services in compliance with the written policies and procedures of the manufacturer.
(e) A franchisor may reasonably and periodically audit a motor vehicle dealer to determine the validity of paid claims or chargebacks for customer or dealer incentives. An audit of incentive payments may apply only to the 18-month period immediately preceding the date on which the dealer was notified of an impending audit.
(5)(6) The dealer must shall furnish the purchaser of a new vehicle with a signed copy of the manufacturer's delivery
and preparation requirements indicating that each of those requirements has been performed."
Section 3. Section 61-4-208, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-4-208. Prohibited acts. (1) A manufacturer of new motor vehicles, a factory branch, a distributor, a distributor branch, an importer, a field representative, an officer, an agent, or any representative of the persons or entities listed may not:
(a) coerce, attempt to coerce, or require a new motor vehicle dealer to:
(i) accept delivery of a new motor vehicle, a part, or an accessory for a new motor vehicle or any other commodity that has not been ordered by the dealer;
(ii) participate in or contribute to any local, regional, or national advertising fund or to participate in or to contribute to contests, giveaways, or other sales devices;
(iii) change location of the dealership or to make substantial alterations to the use or number of franchises or the dealership premises or facilities when to do so would be unreasonable, or without written assurance of a sufficient supply of new motor vehicles that would justify an expansion;
(iv) either establish or maintain exclusive facilities, personnel, or display space or to abandon an existing franchise relationship with another manufacturer that was established before April 8, 1997, when those requirements are not justified by reasonable business considerations;
(v) refrain from participation in the management of, investment in, or acquisition of any other line of new motor vehicle or related products if the new motor vehicle dealer maintains a reasonable line of credit for each make or line of new motor vehicles and remains in compliance with any reasonable capital standards and facility requirements of the manufacturer; or
(vi) enter into an agreement with a manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, distributor branch, or representative of the listed persons or entities or do any other act unfair to the dealer by:
(A) threatening to cancel or not renew a franchise existing between the manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, distributor branch, or representative of the listed persons or entities and the dealer; or
(B) threatening to withhold, delay, or disrupt the receipt of new motor vehicles or any motor vehicle parts or supplies ordered by the dealer from the manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, distributor branch, importer, or representative or agent of the listed entities;
(b) delay, refuse, or fail to deliver new vehicles in a reasonable time in a reasonable quantity relative to the new vehicle dealer's facilities and sales potential after accepting an order from a new vehicle dealer if the new vehicles are publicly advertised as being available for immediate delivery; or
(c) impose unreasonable restrictions on the assertion of legal or equitable rights on the new motor vehicle dealer or franchise regarding transfer; sale; right to renew; termination; discipline; noncompetition covenants; site control, whether by sublease, collateral pledge of lease, or otherwise; or compliance with subjective standards.
(2) There is no violation of subsection (1)(a)(iii) or (1)(b) if a failure on the part of the manufacturer, factory branch, distributor, or distributor branch is beyond the control of the listed persons or entities.
(3) (a) Except as provided in subsection (3)(b) or (3)(c), a manufacturer of new motor vehicles, a factory branch, a distributor, a distributor branch, an importer, a field representative, an officer, an agent, or any representative of any of these persons or entities may not own or operate, directly or indirectly, a motor vehicle dealership in Montana that is for sale or has been for sale under a franchise agreement with a new motor vehicle dealer in Montana.
(b) If there is no independent person available to own and operate a motor vehicle dealership in a manner that is consistent with the public interest, a manufacturer of new motor vehicles, a factory branch, a distributor, a distributor branch, an importer, a field representative, an officer, an agent, or any representative of any of these persons or entities may own and operate a motor vehicle dealership for a temporary period, not to exceed 1 year, during the transition from one owner of the dealership to another. Approval of the sale may not be unreasonably withheld by the manufacturer.
(c) A manufacturer of new motor vehicles, a factory branch, a distributor, a distributor branch, an importer, a field representative, an officer, an agent, or any representative of any of these persons or entities may own an interest in a motor vehicle dealership but may not operate the dealership unless a manufacturer of new motor vehicles, a factory branch, a distributor, a distributor branch, an importer, a field representative, an officer, an agent, or any representative of any of these persons or entities has a bona fide business relationship with an independent person who is not a franchisor or a franchisor's agent or affiliate, who has made an investment that is subject to loss in the dealership, and who reasonably expects to acquire full ownership of the dealership on reasonable terms and conditions."
Section 4. Saving clause. [This act] does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, or proceedings that were begun before [the effective date of this act].
Section 5. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.
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Latest Version of SB 367 (SB0367.ENR)
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