Judge upholds $5.5M jury verdict
A judge has upheld a $5.5-million jury verdict for a former farm equipment dealer after a local law firm contended with 15 months of post-judgment motions.
The June 2013 jury verdict ruled in favor of McCormick International, of Ionia County, in its case against Manitou North America, a Texas-based distributor of farm equipment manufactured by France-based Manitou BF.
The law firm Foster Swift in Grand Rapids, representing McCormick International, said last week that Judge Suzanne Hoseth Kreeger has denied Manitou North America's motion for new trial, motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and motion for remittitur.
In the original trial, McCormick International claimed that after it had signed an exclusive dealer agreement with Manitou — which should have made it the only Manitou farm equipment dealer, particularly for Manitou's telescopic handlers, in Michigan and parts of northern Indiana and northwest Ohio — Manitou entered into business agreements to distribute the products through other retailers.
Based on Manitou’s actions, McCormick argued the company had violated the Michigan Farm and Utility Equipment Act and the Michigan Antitrust Reform Act.
Including interest, costs and attorney fees awarded in favor of McCormick following the trial, the total judgment amount is now more than $6 million.
Foster Swift attorney John Inhulsen led the trial team, which also included Andrew Vredenburg and Joshua Richardson.
“This case was about Michigan businesses and jobs,” Inhulsen said, following the jury verdict last summer. “Our legislature passed these laws, in part, to protect our agricultural equipment businesses from the potentially negative impact of mergers and acquisitions of multi-national corporations, like Manitou and Gehl (a competing dealer), 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.”