2004 Regular Session
By: Representative Miles
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 63-17-85, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE MISSISSIPPI MOTOR VEHICLE COMMISSION TO DENY APPLICATION TO ESTABLISH OR RELOCATE A NEW MOTOR VEHICLE DEALERSHIP UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 63-17-85, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-17-85. (1) The commission may deny an application for a license, or revoke or suspend a license after it has been granted, for any of the following reasons:
(a) On satisfactory proof of unfitness of the applicant or the licensee, as the case may be, under the standards established and set out in the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission Law.
(b) For fraud practiced or any material misstatement made by an applicant in any application for license under the provisions of Section 63-17-75.
(c) For any willful failure to comply with any provision of said law or with any rule or regulation promulgated by the commission under authority vested in it by said law.
(d) Change of condition after license is granted or failure to maintain the qualifications for license.
(e) Continued or flagrant violation of any of the provisions of said law or of any of the rules or regulations of the commission.
(f) For any willful violation of any law relating to the sale, distribution or financing of motor vehicles.
(g) Willfully defrauding any retail buyer to the buyer's damage.
(h) Willful failure to perform any written agreement with any retail buyer.
(i) Being a manufacturer who, for the protection of the buying public, fails to specify the delivery and preparation obligations of its motor vehicle dealers prior to delivery of new motor vehicles to retail buyers. A copy of the delivery and preparation obligations of its motor vehicle dealers and a schedule of the compensation to be paid to its motor vehicle dealers for the work and services they shall be required to perform in connection with such delivery and preparation obligations shall be filed with the commission by every licensed motor vehicle manufacturer and shall constitute any such dealer's only responsibility for product liability as between such dealer and such manufacturer. The compensation as set forth on said schedule shall be reasonable and the reasonableness thereof shall be subject to the approval of the commission. Any mechanical, body or parts defects arising from any express or implied warranties of any such manufacturer shall constitute such manufacturer's product or warranty liability.
(j) On satisfactory proof that any manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, distributor branch or division, factory branch or division, or wholesaler branch or division has unfairly and without due regard to the equities of the parties or to the detriment of the public welfare failed to properly fulfill any warranty agreement or to adequately and fairly compensate any of its motor vehicle dealers for labor, parts and/or incidental expenses incurred by any such dealer with regard to factory warranty agreements performed by any such dealer. In no event shall any such manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, distributor branch or division, factory branch or division, or wholesaler branch or division pay to any of its motor vehicle dealers a labor rate per hour for warranty work less than that charged by any such dealer to its retail customers. No such dealer shall charge to its manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, distributor branch or division, factory branch or division, or wholesaler branch or division, a labor rate per hour in excess of the rate charged to its retail customers. All claims made by motor vehicle dealers hereunder for such labor, parts and/or incidental expenses shall be paid within thirty (30) days following their approval. All such claims shall be either approved or disapproved within thirty (30) days after their receipt, and when any such claim is disapproved the motor vehicle dealer who submits it shall be notified in writing of its disapproval within said period, and each such notice shall state the specific grounds upon which the disapproval is based.
(k) For the commission of any act prohibited by Sections 63-17-73 through 63-17-83 or the failure to perform any of the requirements of said sections.
If the commission finds, after notice and hearing in the manner provided for under the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission Law, that there is sufficient cause upon which to base the revocation of the license of any licensee involved in the hearing, the commission may in lieu of revoking such license assess a civil penalty against the guilty licensee not to exceed Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00). If the commission finds, after such notice and hearing, that sufficient cause exists for the suspension only of the license of any licensee, the commission may in lieu of suspending such license assess a civil penalty against the guilty licensee of not less than Fifty Dollars ($50.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) per day for each day such license would otherwise be suspended. However, the amount of such penalty shall not exceed an aggregate of Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($7,500.00). Failure of the licensee to pay all penalties so assessed within the time allowed by the commission for the payment thereof, which time shall in no case exceed ninety (90) days from the date of the commission's order making such assessment, shall, unless an appeal is taken and perfected within the time and in the manner provided by the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission Law, result in an automatic revocation of such licensee's license. Any such penalties assessed by the commission remaining unpaid at the expiration of the time for payment may be recovered by an action in the name of the commission. All such actions shall be brought by the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi upon the written request of the commission to do so, and shall be brought in the chancery court of the county or the chancery court of the judicial district of the county to which the commission's order making such assessment is appealable under the provisions of Section 63-17-99. All civil penalties assessed and collected by the commission under the authority of this subsection shall be deposited in the General Fund of the State Treasury.
(2) The commission may deny an application to establish a dealership if, after protest, the applicant fails to establish good cause therefor. In determining good cause, the commissioner shall consider:
(a) Whether the manufacturer or distributor of the same line-make of new motor vehicle is being adequately represented as to sales and service;
(b) Whether the protesting franchised dealer representing the same line-make of new motor vehicle is in substantial compliance with his franchise agreement, to the extent that the franchise agreement is not in conflict with the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission Law;
(c) The desirability of a competitive marketplace;
(d) Any harm to the protesting franchised dealer; and
(e) The public interest.
(3) A franchised dealer shall have standing under subsection (2) of this section to protest an application to establish or relocate a dealership if the person filing the protest:
(a) Is a franchised dealer of the same line-make whose dealership is located in the county in which the proposed dealership site is to be located; or
(b) Is a dealer of the same line-make whose dealership is located within a fifteen-mile radius of the proposed dealership site.
(4) Notwithstanding the terms of subsection (3) of this section, the relocation of a dealership is not subject to protest by a franchised dealer:
(a) If the proposed relocation site is not farther than one (1) mile from the site from which the dealership is being relocated; or
(b) Whose dealership is not closer to the proposed location than it is to the location from which the relocated dealership is being relocated.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2004.