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Foster Swift Wins $5.15 Million Verdict for Farm Equipment Dealer

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June 25, 2013

A trial team led by Foster Swift attorney, John Inhulsen, including Andrew Vredenburg and Joshua Richardson, won a $5.15 million unanimous jury verdict on June 21, 2013, in favor of McCormick International, LLC, a former Ionia County farm equipment dealer.  The verdict was against Manitou North America, Inc., a Texas based distributor of farm equipment manufactured by its parent company, France based Manitou BF.

The trial involved McCormick's claims against Manitou under the Michigan Farm and Utility Equipment Act, MCL 445.1451, and the Michigan Antitrust Reform Act, MCL 445.771. 

The jury found that Manitou had damaged McCormick when it: (1) violated Michigan's Farm and Utility Equipment Act by substantially changing McCormick's competitive circumstances when it violated its exclusive dealer agreement with McCormick by distributing equipment  through multiple retail competitors of McCormick within the exclusive Michigan trade area; and (2) violated Michigan's Antitrust Reform Act when it entered into an agreement with Gehl Company, Inc., a Wisconsin based equipment competitor, which restrained its Manitou dealers, including McCormick, in their ability trade and conduct commerce in Michigan.

"This case was about Michigan businesses and jobs.  Our legislature passed these laws, in part, to protect our agricultural equipment businesses from the potentially negative impact of mergers and acquisitions of multinational corporations, like Manitou and Gehl, at the wholesale and manufacturing levels, due to the industry's continued globalization.  The jury sent a strong message to these corporations that if you want to do business in Michigan, you must follow its laws " said lead counsel, John Inhulsen.

Foster Swift's Agricultural and Commercial Litigation groups represent individuals and businesses within Michigan's agricultural community.