Florida dealer Norman Braman's federal lawsuit against General Motors, widely watched in the industry as a challenge to automaker facility programs that include volume-based bonuses, appears headed for a settlement.
Lawyers for Braman and GM filed a joint motion May 29 in federal court in Florida seeking to postpone 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 conclude the settlement and avoid unnecessary litigation expense, according to the filing.
Mike Charapp, Braman's lawyer, declined to comment on the proposed settlement. A GM spokeswoman also declined to comment.
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.
The case is scheduled for trial in February 2014.