Many states have “fair dealership laws.” These laws can trigger special duties for suppliers or manufacturers and can support claims by dealers.
But it’s not always easy for a dealer to establish that one of these laws applies. In a recent decision, the court dismissed a claim under the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law. See Stucchi USA, Inc. v. Hyquip, Inc., Case No. 09-CV-732 (E.D. Wis. Apr. 20, 2011).
This decision is also interesting in its dismissal of a breach of contract claim (alleged breach of an oral agreement to appoint a distributor as an exclusive distributor). ”Unfortunately for [the distributor], the June 18, 2009 termination did not constitute a breach of contract on the part of the Stucchi companies because the right to terminate at will was inherent in the nature of the contract, due to the contract’s indefinite duration.” Distributors wanting to avoid the same fate will want to point to a definite term.