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Industries & Services

Automotive Supply Chain Counseling & Litigation

No other industry in Michigan generates as much need for skilled and seasoned legal counsel as the automotive industry.

Our Motor-City based lawyers have decades of experience counseling and representing suppliers and automakers in virtually every aspect of the industry, from high-stakes products liability class actions, vehicle recall campaigns, government investigations and troubled supplier litigation, to supply chain and contract disputes. In an industry where margins are tight and exposure great, HHBJS lawyers provide pragmatic and cost-effective legal advice that is designed to advance our client’s underlying business objectives.


One of the benefits of partnering with lawyers who have litigated virtually every type of automotive dispute, is that those same lawyers can advise their clients on how to avoid legal traps and pitfalls before they lead to costly and time-consuming litigation. Preventative counseling begins with a thorough understanding of automotive contract terms and conditions – commonly referred to as “T&Cs.” HHBJS lawyers know how to craft supply contracts and agreements so our clients are in the best position to win the “Battle of the Forms,” protect their valuable intellectual property, and limit their exposure for warranty, recall and other costs.

Even with the perfect set of terms and conditions, however, it is a reality in the automotive industry that supply disputes frequently arise at all levels of the supply chain among OEMs, Tier 1, 2, and 3 suppliers, and raw material and commodity suppliers. When that happens, HHBJS lawyers are there to provide necessary guidance and counsel on how to best mitigate risk when it is not possible to avoid it completely. Our lawyers frequently counsel clients at every stage of the supply relationship, from negotiating the initial award of business, to navigating production disruptions and stop-ships, as well as post-production root cause investigations and on-going warranty commitments.


The current spotlight on safety concerns and component quality in the automotive industry has led to many class action lawsuits. Whereas personal injury cases usually are litigated on an individual basis, non-injury “economic loss” cases involving perceived common defects among a vehicle fleet are brought on behalf large groups of consumers. HHBJS lawyers have significant experience handling these cases. We have defended companies in automotive class actions involving allegations of unsuitable seat belts, risks of airbag inflator ruptures, premature wear and tear of brakes, vehicle miles-per-gallon ratings, and convertible top latch mechanisms, among others. We also have defended automotive suppliers in class actions concerning price fixing allegations in the supply chain.


Perhaps no single issue has gripped the automotive industry more in recent years than vehicle recalls. Although recalls are not new, common sourcing of components across many different vehicle platforms and lines and global vehicle designs have made recalls more costly and disruptive than ever. HHBJS lawyers have extensive experience navigating the troubled waters of vehicle recalls and warranty recovery. We have successfully counseled clients during contentious pre-suit activities, such as during root cause investigations and government investigations. In addition, HHBJS lawyers have successfully resolved recall and warranty litigation for their clients when decisive and forceful advocacy is required.


HHBJS lawyers can help you spot regulatory and compliance problems percolating in your supply chain operations as well. This expertise is a must-have given the heightened powers and increased involvement of government regulators. The Department of Justice, for example, recently conducted its largest investigation of alleged antitrust conduct in the automotive supply chain. Innumerable suppliers have been the subject of subpoenas, criminal prosecution, and civil litigation arising out of this investigation. On the regulatory side, Congress enhanced the enforcement tools available to the National Highway Transit Safety Administration (NHTSA) through its passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Suppliers should be aware that the new FAST Act triples the maximum cap on civil penalties for violations of motor vehicle safety laws, increases reporting obligations when notifying NHTSA of safety defects, and for the first time, provides a means for whistleblowers who report new information about safety defects to collect significant sums of money.


Although just-in-time production has revolutionized the automotive industry in many ways, it has created pressure points that many seek to exploit, particularly when raw material cost increases render contracts that were once profitable either marginally profitable or losing propositions. HHBJS lawyers have extensive experience handling disputes involving supply disruptions and stop-ships. We have helped our clients secure much needed price increases, as well as ensure their production continues unabated when threatened.


Almost every automotive supplier and automaker has considered pursuing injunctive relief at one time or another. When it comes time to seek an injunction to keep production moving, or resist one when a contract has become unbalanced, you need seasoned counsel who know the industry cold and have been there before. You certainly don’t have time to educate a lawyer on your business or the industry. HHBJS lawyers have the experience and skill set to deliver results when the pressure is on. HHBJS lawyers were among the first to litigate stop-ship disputes and other supply disruptions involving injunctive relief in Southeast Michigan. We have run to the federal courthouses in Michigan and the state courthouses in Oakland County, Wayne County and Macomb County countless times to successfully prosecute and defend our clients’ interests in cases involved injunctive relief.


The automotive industry is heavily reliant on contracts, and because most automotive contracts involve the sale of goods, it is necessary to have counsel well versed in the Uniform Commercial Code, or UCC. HHBJS lawyers are experts in the UCC and frequently write and lecture on UCC topics that are of particular interest to the automotive industry. They have authored articles, counseled clients, and litigated cases involving such issues as the nature and scope of requirements contracts, consequential damages, and force majeure, among others.


HHBJS lawyers have handled automobile dealer and franchise disputes throughout the United States. They have successfully represented clients in dealer terminations and relocations in Michigan and through the Midwest and East, warranty charge-back disputes in California (before the California New Motor Vehicle Board), and many other disputes involving a host of issues unique to this specialized area of the law.