Dealers and dealer associations around the country were closely watching for the outcome of the lawsuit. Many were cheering Braman on in his fight against GM, and some had even offered support and financial resources.
Mike Charapp, Braman's outside counsel on the lawsuit, declined to comment today. A call to Braman's general counsel wasn't immediately returned. A GM spokeswoman said the company has no comment.
Impasse on renovations
Braman's lawsuit, filed in January 2012 and scheduled for trial in February 2014, had emerged as a likely 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. Pulling his bonus payments while continuing to make payments to other Cadillac dealerships resulted in two-tier pricing in violation of the federal Robinson-Patman Act, Braman and his lawyers argued.
The lawsuit also accused GM of 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.
In a 2012 interview with Automotive News, Braman said facility demands had reached a point where dealers had to do something about it. And he could afford the fight, he noted.
A longtime dealer, art collector and former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, Braman ranked No. 298 on the 2012 Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans with an estimated net worth of $1.6 billion.
In the 2012 interview, Braman said: "When you reach a point where they're withholding substantial amounts of money from us in direct violation of Florida law, it's just time to bring this into a courtroom to try to stop it."