§1267. Succession; right of first refusal
A.(1) The terms of the franchise notwithstanding, any dealer may appoint by will, or other written instrument, a designated successor to succeed in the ownership interest of the dealer in the dealership upon the death or incapacity of the dealer.
(2) Unless good cause exists for refusal to honor the succession on the part of the manufacturer or distributor, any designated successor of a deceased or incapacitated dealer of a dealership may succeed to the ownership of the dealership under the existing franchise if:
(i) The designated successor gives the manufacturer or distributor written notice of his or her intention to succeed to the ownership of the dealer within sixty days of the dealer's death or incapacity.
(ii) The designated successor agrees to be bound by all the terms and conditions of the franchise.
(3) The manufacturer or distributor may request, and the designated successor shall provide, promptly upon such request, personal and financial data reasonably necessary to determine whether the succession should be honored.
(4) If a manufacturer or distributor believes that good cause exists for refusing to honor the succession of a deceased or incapacitated dealer, the manufacturer or distributor may, not more than sixty days following receipt of notice of the designated successor's intent to succeed and receipt of such personal or financial data, serve upon the designated successor notice of its refusal to honor the succession and of its intent to discontinue the existing franchise with the dealer not earlier than six months from the date such notice is served.
(5) The notice must state the specific grounds for the refusal to honor the succession.
(6) If notice of refusal and discontinuance is not timely served upon the designated successor, the franchise shall continue in effect subject to termination only as otherwise permitted by this Chapter.
(7) In determining whether good cause for the refusal to honor the succession exists, the manufacturer or distributor has the burden of proving that the designated successor is not of good moral character or does not otherwise meet the manufacturer's or distributor's reasonable standards as a franchisee.
(8) If a manufacturer or distributor refuses to honor the succession to the ownership interest of a deceased or incapacitated owner for good cause, then and in such event:
(i) The manufacturer or distributor shall allow the designated successor a reasonable period of time which shall not be less than six months in which to consummate a sale of the dealership. Any such sale shall be subject to R.S. 32:1261(A)(1)(d).
(ii) Upon termination of the franchise pursuant to such refusal, the provisions of R.S. 32:1268 shall apply.
B. In the event of a proposed sale or transfer of a dealership and if the franchise agreement has a right of first refusal in favor of the manufacturer or distributor, then, notwithstanding the terms of the franchise agreement, the manufacturer or distributor shall be permitted to exercise a right of first refusal to acquire the motor vehicle dealer's assets or ownership if all of the following requirements are met:
(1) In order to exercise its right of first refusal, the manufacturer or distributor shall notify the motor vehicle dealer in writing within sixty days of his receipt of the completed proposal for the proposed sale or transfer and all related agreements.
(2) The applicability of R.S. 32:1261(A)(1)(l) shall not be expanded or changed.
(3) The exercise of the right of first refusal will result in the dealer receiving the same or greater consideration as he has contracted to receive in connection with the proposed change of ownership or transfer.
(4) The proposed sale or transfer of the dealership's assets does not involve the transfer or sale to a member or members of the family of one or more dealers, or to a qualified manager with at least two years management experience at the dealership of one or more of these dealers, or to a partnership or corporation controlled by such persons.
(5)(a) The manufacturer or distributor agrees to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney fees which do not exceed the usual, customary, and reasonable fees charged for similar work done for other clients, incurred by the proposed owner or transferee prior to the manufacturer's or distributor's exercise of its right of first refusal in negotiating and implementing the contract for the proposed sale or transfer of the dealership or dealership assets. Such expenses and attorney fees shall be paid to the proposed new owner or transferee at the time of closing of the sale or transfer for which the manufacturer or distributor exercised its right of first refusal.
(b) No payment of such expenses and attorney fees shall be required if the new owner or transferee has not submitted or caused to be submitted an accounting of those expenses within thirty days of the dealer's receipt of the manufacturer's or distributor's written request for such an accounting. A manufacturer or distributor may request such accounting before exercising his right of first refusal.
(6) The dealer shall not have any liability to any person as a result of a manufacturer's exercising its right of first refusal and the manufacturer or distributor shall assume the defense of the selling dealer for any claim by the proposed owner or transferee arising from the exercise of the right of first refusal.
C. The provisions of this Section shall not apply to the succession of any marine dealer, motorcycle or all-terrain vehicle, or recreational vehicle.
Acts 2005, No. 500, §1, eff. July 12, 2005; Acts 2012, No. 326, §1.