Billionaire megadealer Norman Braman's two-tier pricing lawsuit against General Motors appears headed for a settlement.
Lawyers for Braman and GM filed a joint motion last week in federal court in South Florida seeking to postpone upcoming court dates because of the pending settlement. Braman's lawsuit contends that GM's Essential Brand Elements program violates the federal Robinson-Patman Act prohibiting price discrimination by manufacturers.
"The parties believe they have reached an agreement in principle to resolve this matter and are working to prepare and finalize the settlement papers for execution," the filing said.
The postponement would give GM and the Braman organization time to finalize the settlement and avoid unnecessary litigation expense, according to the filing.
Mike Charapp, Braman's outside counsel on the lawsuit, declined to comment today on the proposed settlement. A GM spokeswoman said the company won't comment on ongoing litigation.
Braman's lawsuit, filed in January 2012, was shaping up to be a test case on the legality of manufacturer facility programs that pay volume-based bonuses to participating dealerships. Braman said GM wrongly cut off bonus payments to his Miami Cadillac store in 2011 after the parties came to an impasse on store renovations.
Braman also said GM is violating a Florida law requiring manufacturers to pay a reasonable portion of an incentive to dealerships that don't comply with a program's facility requirements if they satisfy other program elements.
Without a settlement, the case is scheduled for trial in February 2014. Dealers around the country, many of whom strongly support Braman's efforts, are closely watching for the outcome.