North Carolina Business Litigation Report

Sonic Automotive, Inc. v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, June 4, 2008 (Tennille)(unpublished)

The Business Court had mandatory jurisdiction under N.C. Gen. Stat. §7A-45.4 over plaintiff's lawsuit because it involved claims involving antitrust law, even though the complaint did not specifically allege an antitrust claim.  It was sufficient that the claim was essentially based on a "contract in restraint of trade."  The Court held:

Plaintiff has asked the Court to remand this action because the case “does not involve any . . . issue” regarding antitrust law or the law governing corporations. (Pl. Br. Supp. Opp’n 1.) The Court disagrees. First, this case potentially involves violations of antitrust law. Section 75-1.1 of the North Carolina General Statutes does not cover simple breach of contract. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-1.1 (2007). Thus, the unfair trade practices claim may involve antitrust issues. Second, this case may involve issues with broad ramifications for automobile dealers and manufacture[r]s. Third, this case may also involve the interplay between courts and administrative agencies. These parties and agencies will benefit from a single judge hearing this case. Fourth, this case involves the sale of a business or business assets. Fifth, the case is likely to be motion intensive.

Full Opinion

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Mack Sperling
Brooks Pierce, LLP
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