Following premature termination of SIE dealership contract
Clark Material Handling Company has filed a lawsuit against Toyota Material Handling U.S.A. Inc. (TMHU) in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division. The lawsuit stems from the premature termination of a recently signed authorized dealer partnership between Clark and Southeast Industrial Equipment (SIE). Scott Johnson, Vice President of Business Development for Clark stated, “SIE became an authorized CLARK dealer on May 17, 2012.” “On July 27, 2012 we received a letter from SIE informing us that it would be unable to represent CLARK in the marketplace “due to perceived conflict of interest with [its] current vendor.” SIE went on to say that “[c]urrent and future opportunities will be lost if we continue to represent CLARK and that is a risk SIE cannot take.” While we understand the difficult decision that SIE was forced to make, we at CLARK are committed to protecting
ourselves, our dealers and our customers from improper and unethical coercion. Many states have laws that prohibit the kind of coercion that we believe occurred here. Accordingly, on August 14, 2012 CLARK filed a complaint against Toyota in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division.” Court documents state the belief that “SIE’s decision was the direct result of coercion, pressure and intimidation by TMHU on SIE to cease its relationship with its competitor, Clark.” In response to this lawsuit, and in an effort to provide accurate facts showing that this lawsuit is without any legal or factual basis, TMHU is issuing the following statement: “Clark Material Handling Company’s lawsuit against Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc. (TMHU) contains a number of misstatements, incorrect assumptions and unsupported allegations. Southeast Industrial Equipment has been a Toyota dealer for 26 years. TMHU, as a business partner, regularly communicates with its dealers, including Southeast Industrial, and has on many occasions provided advice to Southeast Industrial related to selling Toyota products. TMHU expressly denies Clark’s allegations that it acted improperly or that it unfairly pressured, coerced or threatened Southeast Industrial in any manner. In fact, out of a network of 72 dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada, 27 Toyota dealers represent competing brands as well. Any decisions made by Southeast Industrial regarding Clark were independent business decisions made solely by the dealer. TMHU denies all the allegations of this lawsuit and intends to vigorously pursue its defense that it has not engaged in any improper or unfair business practices.” The case has been assigned to District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. as presiding judge and Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer as referral judge. Evan M. Sauda with the Charlotte law firm of Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP represented Lexington, Kentucky-based Clark in filing the 14-page complaint.