A Florida dealership that sued Nissan North America over remodeling funds must arbitrate the dispute, a federal judge ruled last month. Now the store wants the judge to reconsider.
In the lawsuit, Crown Nissan, of St. Petersburg, claims Nissan failed to provide a promised $300,000 for remodeling assistance through the Nissan Retail Environmental Design Initiative program.
It also accuses Nissan of violating its contract and the state dealer law by failing to give it the same assistance that other Nissan stores have received under the program.
Specifically, Crown claims Nissan reneged on its already approved plan the day before remodeling was scheduled to begin in February 2012.
Nissan officials told Crown that its store was "not optimally located" and that a market study indicated that an alternative location "would be most ideal," according to the suit. Crown says that its 2009 Facility Program -- Dealer Participation Agreement doesn't require a store to be "optimally located" to qualify for the incentive and that the program assisted other Florida dealerships that were not "optimally located."
The suit seeks an order requiring payment of the incentive, as well as triple damages and attorney fees.
But U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich ruled Feb. 15 that the Dealer Participation Agreement mandates arbitration rather than litigation of all claims.
She rejected Crown's argument that allegations under the state dealer law aren't covered by the agreement.
"The agreement explicitly provides that it is inconsistent with the parties' relationship to use either courts or governmental agencies to resolve claims or controversies that might arise between them," Kovachevich said.
On March 15, Crown asked her to reconsider the question.
Crown's lawyer, R. Craig Spickard of Tallahassee, Fla., says he can't discuss the case.
A Nissan spokesman also declined to comment because the litigation is continuing.