On Wednesday, February 19, 2020, the Board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles entered a “Final Order” in Hyundai Motor America’s favor in the case of World Car Hyundai v. Hyundai Motor America (“HMA”), ending a six-year dispute. HMA was represented by Kevin Young and David Prichard at trial. David Montpas handled the post-trial administrative briefing, and Bruce Bennett (Cardwell, Hart & Bennett, Austin, TX) led HMA’s appeal. World Car Hyundai is owned by Ahmad Zabihian, and he operates two Hyundai dealerships in San Antonio, Texas.
Here is the timeline of events:
2014 – World Car filed a complaint with the DMV claiming that HMA unreasonably discriminated in the allocation of vehicles and the distribution of certain marketing funds, and that HMA’s conduct amounted to a bad faith business practice.
2015 – The case went to trial in October and included over 300 exhibits and almost 20 witnesses, with experts on both sides giving testimony.
2016 – In March 2016, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued a 27-page Proposal for Decision, finding in favor of HMA on all issues That PFD was reviewed by staff counsel and the Director of the DMV’s Motor Vehicle Division. The Director recommended that the Board adopt the PFD with a couple of minor administrative changes. Going against the recommendation of the Director, the Board voted to overturn the ALJ’s proposal and, instead, found in favor of World Car on all counts.
2017 – At a re-hearing before the Board (a necessary step before any appeal), the Board again voted in favor of World Car.
2018 – Hyundai appealed the Board’s decision, alleging (among other things) the Board did not have authority to disregard the PFD and substitute its own findings, and the Board’s conduct was in violation of Texas statutes.
2019 – The Austin Court of Appeals agreed with Hyundai and overturned the Board’s order, sending the matter back to the Board with instructions to closely follow the law.
February 6, 2020 The DMV Board heard arguments and voted 7-2 in favor of Hyundai, affirming the PFD and rejecting World Car’s claims.
February 19, 2020 – The Board’s Final Order was issued.