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Tesla Wins Dealership Dispute in Michigan

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Dec. 15, 2017—As part of its current legal battle over the right to sell its electric cars directly to customers in the state of Michigan, Tesla is trying to subpoena communications between automakers, auto dealers, and legislators over the law that banned direct sales from automakers.

According to Electrek, Tesla has been trying to get the communications from three specific auto dealers and today, a judge denied an appeal from those dealerships, which should force them to turn over their communications to Tesla’s legal team.

A change to the law in 2014 prohibits direct sales from automakers, which is blocking Tesla from obtaining a dealership license and selling cars in the state.

Last year, Tesla filed a lawsuit against the state after claiming that the ban on direct sales violates commerce laws and that it was pushed by car dealers and GM in an attempt to block the electric automaker at the last hour.

Already a year in, the legal battle is expected to take a while and right now it revolves mostly around what information Tesla gets to use to prove its point.

As part of the discovery process earlier this year, Tesla filed to have two lawmakers turn over any communication with car dealers and automaker lobbyists about the ban.

One of the lawmakers, Sen. Joe Hune, R-Gregory, is the senator who introduced the last-minute amendment that created the ban in 2014 and his wife, Marcia Hune, is a lobbyist for car dealerships.

The other, Rep. Jason Sheppard, R-Lambertville, is being subpoenaed because Tesla claimed that he confirmed to one of their representatives that the reason behind the ban is that “Michigan auto dealers and manufacturers don’t want Tesla in Michigan”.

The two lawmakers fought against the disclosure of their communications—claiming that there would be a backlash, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody denied their bids in August.

Now Tesla also wanted the communications from Ann Arbor Automotive, Serra Automotive and Shaheen Chevrolet with the state’s dealers association (MADA) and legislators.

The dealers appealed to the request claiming that it would chill them from interacting with lawmakers and regulators in the future.

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