Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

A federal judge in Michigan has ruled in favor of a request by Tesla asking for the release of communications between a lobbyist for the state's auto dealers and state legislatures pertaining to a law prohibiting direct sales to Michigan residents.


Tesla Legal Battle Heats Up In Michigan

A federal judge in Michigan has ruled in favor of a request by Tesla asking for the release of communications between a lobbyist for the state’s auto dealers and state legislatures pertaining to a law prohibiting direct sales to Michigan residents.

Last year, Tesla filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Michigan alleging the law passed by its legislature in 2014 forbidding direct sales of Tesla automobiles to customers in the Wolverine State violates the US Constitution. In its court pleadings, Tesla’s attorneys said:

“Tesla Motors brings this lawsuit to vindicate its rights under the United States Constitution to sell and service its critically-acclaimed, all-electric vehicles at Tesla owned facilities in the State of Michigan. Particularly egregious protectionist legislation was passed by the Michigan Legislature in 2014. The Michigan Legislature quietly enacted an outright ban on Tesla’s direct-to-consumer sales model, effectively giving franchised dealers a state-sponsored monopoly on car sales within Michigan.”

As part of its case, Tesla served subpoenas on state senator Joe Hune of Hamburg and representative Jason Sheppard of Temperance, both Republicans, demanding they turn over all emails and all other communications received from lobbyists leading up to the filing of that amendment. The pair tried to quash those subpoenas, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody ruled against them and ordered them to comply.

You might think that a lawsuit that is now almost a year old would be over by now, right? Wrong. The legal system in America is a marathon, not a sprint. Only long-distance runners need apply. Last week, Judge Carmody handed Tesla another preliminary victory. She ruled that Kurt Berryman, director of legislative affairs for the Auto Dealers of Michigan must turn over internal records pertaining to the passage of that 2014 law.

Although Berryman is an attorney, the records of the dealer association are not subject to attorney-client privilege, reports the Detroit Free Press. The records sought by Tesla “do not involve any ‘legal advice’ whatsoever. Rather they concern strategy regarding the legislation which is the subject of this litigation,” Carmody wrote in her opinion.

Perhaps in a few years time, all the pre-trial skirmishing will be concluded and the case will actually proceed to trial. No matter the outcome, an appeal is assured, eating even more years of litigation. The wheels of justice grind very slowly indeed. If and when the communications between the dealer association and members of the Michigan legislature should make for very interesting reading.

The real story behind this legal battle is that the case was brought in federal court. Even though decisions at the trial court level are not binding on other courts in the federal system, a decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals would be binding on federal courts in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. If an appeal from the Sixth Circuit were to wind up before the US Supreme Court, the result would then be binding on all federal courts.

CleanTechnica has reached out to Tesla for a comment on the court’s ruling but we have not yet received a response.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.


You May Also Like


In light of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s response to Kim Paquette about how safe Tesla vehicles are, I wanted to share a quick comparison...

Clean Transport

Check out these 9 charts on EV charging trends — especially workplace EV chargers and trends — in the USA.


The UK's EV market share reached 28.1 % share in November, almost double the 15.9% market penetration of just one year ago!

Clean Transport

Last month, it was announced that the City of Logan in Ohio was the first city in the southeast region of the state to...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.