The post-bankruptcy General Motors will be subject to state dealer laws in some areas, but not regarding dealer terminations approved in GM's Chapter 11 reorganization.
GM had sought to limit dealers' access to state protections by forcing post-bankruptcy disputes to be resolved in Bankruptcy Court, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said in an interview last week.
But under an agreement approved in Bankruptcy Court, dealers will get access to state courts for many potential disputes with the new company.
The automaker's agreement with 45 states was included in the bankruptcy judge's July 5 order approving the sale of more profitable GM assets to a new government-controlled company.
The disputes that can be addressed in state courts include those involving product-liability claims, warranties, and compliance with lemon laws, privacy and environmental and tax laws, Suthers said.
"This provides bread-and-butter protection against arbitrary or coercive corporate action," said Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.
The agreement does not cover termination disputes between GM and dealers, said Suthers, who helped negotiate the deal. Those disputes still will be handled in Bankruptcy Court.
"We didn't get everything we wanted," he said. "But the new GM will be fully subject to state regulation."
GM has announced plans to pare its dealer network from 6,000 stores to about 3,600.
GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson declined comment.
The judge's order, which is not final, cited GM's agreement with the states. It said disputes between GM and its dealers "will be resolved locally."
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who led the state negotiators, said GM's concessions "won't interfere with the ability of new GM to function as a viable company, nor should they add to the burden placed on taxpayers."