October 2, 2014

Elyria
Fog
59°F
test

Judge dismisses lawsuit between Chevrolet dealerships

ELYRIA — After an almost three-hour hearing on Wednesday, a dispute between local Chevrolet dealers Pat O’Brien and Joe Firment was dismissed in court.

The case was brought to the court by Pat O’Brien Chevrolet after the dealership’s attorneys filed a motion Friday seeking a temporary retraining order and permanent injunction to prevent Joe Firment Chevrolet from changing location from Lorain to Avon.

O’Brien’s attorneys contested the move on the grounds that state law prohibited Joe Firment from moving within 10 miles of the “relevant market area.”

But talks came to a standstill during a brief hearing on Monday as Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Miraldi responded to evidence brought forward by the defense. Under Ohio law, O’Brien had a 15-day period to file a protest to the Ohio Motor Vehicle Dealers Board, the body authorized to adjudicate on this particular issue.

Attorneys for Joe Firment Chevrolet and General Motors filed a motion for the judge to dismiss the case Monday, and Miraldi postponed further examination until Wednesday to give both sides time to prepare arguments strictly regarding the 15-day period in question.

General Motors sent notification of the impending relocation of the Firment dealership on Jan. 20, but O’Brien’s attorneys did not file a statement of protest in that time, indicating that O’Brien believed he had no choice but to accept the relocation.

After hearing testimony from witnesses on both sides, including by O’Brien, Firment and an employee of General Motors, Miraldi dismissed the case on the grounds that General Motors followed all legal requirements for informing O’Brien.

Miraldi maintained that to make a ruling that moved that case forward in his court, circumventing the protest process outlined in the Ohio Revised Code would knowingly circumvent the law.

“I think I’m doing the right thing here,” Miraldi said Monday.

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