A federal court will decide whether General Motors' Project 2000 plan illegally undermined a Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealer's ability to sell his dealership.
The trial is to begin May 7.
Albert Lewin, of Cobleskill, N.Y., sued GM for more than $25 million in compensatory and punitive damages in 1998, claiming the company's marketing plan has prevented him from selling his dealership at a fair price, court documents say.
The Project 2000 plan, which GM used to reconfigure its dealer network in the 1990s, was designed to weed out low-volume dealerships and relocate others.
GM notified Lewin in writing in 1996 and 1998 that the automaker was monitoring the dealership's financial health. Lewin Chevrolet-Oldsmobile Inc., a small, rural dealership, was rated marginal under the plan.
Lewin had negotiated the sale of his business in June 1997, accepting a letter of intent for the $375,000 purchase of his dealership and an $18,750 deposit. The deal collapsed when the buyer learned from GM the store's status under the Project 2000 plan.
Lewin alleges that GM's evaluation was unfair and that it violates the New York Motor Vehicle Franchise Dealer Act, which bars manufacturers from hindering the sale of a dealership to a credible buyer.