October 22, 2014

Elyria
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47°F
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Chevy dealers continue to battle in court

ELYRIA — After a brief hearing on Monday, Chevrolet dealers Pat O’Brien and Joe Firment will return to court Wednesday to discuss a technical issue in the case over Firment’s plans to relocate.

Attorneys for Pat O’Brien Chevrolet, 251000 Detroit Road, Westlake, filed a motion Friday seeking a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction to prevent Joe Firment Chevrolet from changing location from Lorain to Avon on Friday.

The lawyers asked Common Pleas Court Judge James Miraldi to rule in favor of O’Brien to block the efforts of Joe Firment Chevrolet to move from 4500 Grove Ave., Lorain, to Chester Road and Aspen Lane in Avon.

But talks came to a standstill Monday as the judge responded to evidence brought forward by the Firment’s attorneys.

Under Ohio law, O’Brien had 15 days to file a protest upon receiving written notice of Firment dealership’s relocation.

O’Brien received the notification in January but did not file any protest.

Miraldi maintained that the court needed to first decide on the legality of O’Brien bringing the issue to his court before any other claims could be addressed.

The initial motion filed by O’Brien’s lawyers suggested that the relocation would cause O’Brien to lose sales and profits, as well as put the two dealerships 6.2 miles apart and violate a GM dealership contract provision designed to prevent the oversaturation of the marketplace.

According to a motion dismiss by General Motors, who along with Joe Firment Chevrolet is a defendant in this suit, O’Brien’s protest is unfounded even beyond the 15-day technicality. General Motors claims that O’Brien waived his right to timely contest the relocation in an agreement he signed when General Motors filed bankruptcy in 2009. General Motors maintains that under Ohio Revised Code, the Ohio Motor Vehicle Dealers Board is the only body authorized to adjudicate on this issue.

O’Brien maintained in examination Monday that he was told by G.M. officials in January that the relocation was a “done deal” and did not believe he had the option to protest the move.

Court adjourned until Wednesday to give both sides the opportunity to prepare their cases based on the 15-day filing period, which will likely dominate conversations in the next part of the hearings.

“At this point let’s just deal with this issue,” said Miraldi on Monday about other factors at play in the suit between the two dealers. “Once this is sorted out, the rest might be moot.”

Both sides will reconvene in court Wednesday for a cross-examination of O’Brien by Firment’s lawyers and an opportunity to hear witnesses.

Contact Emily Kennedy at 329-7243 or ekennedy@chroniclet.com.