Can you hear the shredders? In the latest development in Tesla’s lawsuit against the State of Michigan over their right to sell and service their vehicles in the state, a federal judge has ordered lawmakers involved in creating the sales ban to disclose their communications related to the ban.
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As we previously reported, Michigan is the most populated state in the US that still doesn’t have a Tesla store or service center. It’s not for lack of trying on Tesla’s part. The company has been trying to obtain a dealer license, but a 2014 change to the law prohibits direct sales from automakers, which is blocking them for obtaining the license.
Last year, Tesla filed a lawsuit against the state after claiming that the ban on direct sales violates commerce laws and that it was pushed by car dealers and GM in an attempt to block the electric automaker.
As part of the discovery process last month, Tesla filed to have two lawmakers turn over any communication with car dealers and automaker lobbyists about the ban.
One of the lawmakers, Sen. Joe Hune, R-Gregory, is the senator who introduced the last-minute amendment that created the ban in 2014 and his wife, Marcia Hune, is a lobbyist for car dealerships.
The other, Rep. Jason Sheppard, R-Lambertville, is being subpoenaed because Tesla claimed that he confirmed to one of their representatives that the reason behind the ban is that “Michigan auto dealers and manufacturers don’t want Tesla in Michigan”.
The two lawmakers fought against the disclosure of their communications, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody denied their bids yesterday.
The Detroit Free Press reported on the order yesterday:
“Carmody said the subpoena for Hune will be limited to 12 months prior to and six months after the passage of the law on Oct. 21, 2014. She said the subpoena for Sheppard will be limited to the period from Jan. 1, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2016.”
The documents will be for attorneys’ eyes only for now.
The lawmakers likely saw it coming since Carmody called their communications over the ban “fair game” last month.
Tesla is now also going after the communications of Kurt Berryman, a lobbyist Michigan Auto Dealers Association and the Detroit Auto Dealers Association. We reported on the effort in a report last month, Tesla vs State of Michigan: car dealers fear disclosure of their role in banning Tesla’s sales.