Faurecia Interior Systems USA Inc. must pay $10 million plus interest to Multimatic Inc. over a component of the instrument panels in two Chrysler vehicles, an appeals court has ruled.
A panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled 2-1 late last week to uphold the 2007 jury verdict in favor of Markham, Ont.-based Multimatic.
Multimatic sued Faurecia for breach of confidentiality and letter-of-intent agreements in a 2005 dispute over a “cross-car beam” to be used for instrument panels in the 2007-2012 Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger, assembled in Sterling Heights, Mich.
Faurecia entered into the letter-of-intent agreement with Multimatic on the cross-car beam work in 2003, but later switched suppliers to Brown Corp. after it could not reach an agreement on pricing with Multimatic.
The companies also entered a confidentiality agreement to share Multimatic design work, analysis models and other data on the cross-car beam. The agreement also covered each company’s business, customers and technical information about its products.
Faurecia appealed the Ann Arbor jury’s verdict, arguing in part that the confidentiality agreement offered narrow protection for trade secrets and that broadening it could threaten production on a line of vehicles. Multimatic also cross-appealed a trial court decision to exclude an expert who could have placed Multimatic’s damages at $28.7 million.
The Circuit Court rejected both appeals last week.
“Multimatic is satisfied with the outcome at the appeals court, and we look forward to receiving payment on this matter,” said Rodger Young, partner at Young & Susser PC in suburban Detroit. The firm represented Multimatic in the case.
Faurecia's parent company is based in Nanterre, France, and ranks No. 8 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide sales to automakers of $17.7 billion in 2008.