Chrysler Group's conditions for reinstating dealers are facing challenges in the courts and in Congress from closed dealerships that have filed arbitration claims and won.
Those dealers contend Chrysler's letters of intent impose unfair and burdensome requirements on the 17 terminated stores that have prevailed at arbitration since April.
That number may increase by the end of the month, when the arbitration process ends.
Chrysler's requirements -- one of which lets the company withdraw the letter of intent if a nearby dealer protests -- make it unusually risky and costly for dealerships to be reinstated, dealers and their lawyers contend. The company's conditions also flout Congress' intent in setting up an arbitration process that treated letters of intent as a routine precursor to reinstatement, they contend.
"I will not roll over for this," said Charlie Morris, owner of Terry Chrysler-Jeep, a Burnt Hills, N.Y., dealership that prevailed in arbitration last month. "Chrysler is putting me and other dealers in a corner. ... But I've gone this far, and I'm not willing to let it go."
A terminated Missouri dealership that prevailed at arbitration sued Chrysler last month in an attempt to secure what it considers a less onerous letter of intent.
A shuttered Florida store that also was dissatisfied with its letter filed suit last week seeking prompt reinstatement by Chrysler.
Six other dealerships that won in arbitration had a conference call last week to discuss a possible collective suit against Chrysler, said lawyer John Gentile of Mineola, N.Y., who helped organize the call.