135.025(2)(a) (a) To promote the compelling interest of the public in fair business relations between dealers and grantors, and in the continuation of dealerships on a fair basis;
135.025(2)(b) (b) To protect dealers against unfair treatment by grantors, who inherently have superior economic power and superior bargaining power in the negotiation of dealerships;
135.025(2)(c) (c) To provide dealers with rights and remedies in addition to those existing by contract or common law;
135.025(2)(d) (d) To govern all dealerships, including any renewals or amendments, to the full extent consistent with the constitutions of this state and the United States.
135.025(3) (3) The effect of this chapter may not be varied by contract or agreement. Any contract or agreement purporting to do so is void and unenforceable to that extent only.
135.025 History History: 1977 c. 171.
135.025 Annotation The choice of law clause in a dealership agreement was unenforceable. Bush v. National School Studios, 139 Wis. 2d 635, 407 N.W.2d 883 (1987).
135.025 Annotation Federal law required the enforcement of an arbitration clause even though that clause did not provide the relief guaranteed by this chapter, contrary to this section and s. 135.05. Madison Beauty Supply v. Helene Curtis, 167 Wis. 2d 237, 481 N.W.2d 644 (Ct. App. 1992).
135.025 Annotation A forum-selection clause in a dealership agreement was not freely bargained for and was rendered ineffective under sub. (2) (b). Cutter v. Scott & Fetzer Co. 510 F. Supp. 905 (1981).
135.025 Annotation The relinquishment of territory and the signing of a guaranty agreement were changes insufficient to bring a relationship under this law. Rochester v. Royal Appliance Mfg. Co. 569 F. Supp. 736 (1983).
135.03 135.03 Cancellation and alteration of dealerships. No grantor, directly or through any officer, agent or employee, may terminate, cancel, fail to renew or substantially change the competitive circumstances of a dealership agreement without good cause. The burden of proving good cause is on the grantor.
135.03 History History: 1973 c. 179; 1977 c. 171.
135.03 Annotation A grantor may cancel, terminate, or non-renew a dealership if the dealer refuses to accept changes that are essential, reasonable, and not discriminatory. A dealer's failure to substantially comply with the changes constitutes good cause. Ziegler Co., Inc. v. Rexnord, 147 Wis. 2d 308, 433 N.W.2d 8 (1988).
135.03 Annotation A drug supplier violated this section by terminating without good cause all dealership agreements with independently owned pharmacies in the state. Kealey Pharmacy & Home Care Service, Inc. v. Walgreen Co. 761 F.2d 345 (1985).
135.03 Annotation This chapter did not apply to a grantor's action that was due to business exigencies unrelated to the dealer and was done in a nondiscriminatory manner. Remus v. Amoco Oil Co. 794 F.2d 1238 (1986).
135.03 Annotation Economic duress may serve as a basis for a claim of constructive termination of a dealership. JPM, Inc. v. John Deere, 94 F.3d 270 (1996).
135.03 Annotation A grantor's substantial loss of money under a dealership relationship may constitute "good cause" for changes in the contract, including termination. Morley-Murphy Co. v. Zenith Electronics, Inc. 142 F.3d 373 (1998).
135.03 Annotation A change in credit terms was a change in a dealer's "competitive circumstances." Van v. Mobil Oil Corp. 515 F. Supp. 487 (1981).
135.03 Annotation This section did not apply when a grantor withdrew in a nondiscriminatory fashion from a product market on a large geographic scale. A 90-day notice was required. St. Joseph Equipment v. Massey-Ferguson, Inc. 546 F. Supp. 1245 (1982).
135.03 Annotation Franchisees failed to meet their burden of proof that their competitive circumstances would be substantially changed by a new agreement. Bresler's 33 Flavors Franchising Corp. v. Wokosin, 591 F. Supp. 1533 (1984).
135.03 Annotation Good cause for termination includes failure to achieve reasonable sales goals. L.O. Distributors, Inc., v. Speed Queen Co. 611 F. Supp. 1569 (1985).
135.03 Annotation Federal law preempts this chapter in petroleum franchise cases. Baker v. Amoco Oil Co., 761 F. Supp. 1386 (1991).
135.03 Annotation When parties continue their relations after the term of a dealership contract has expired, the contract has been renewed for another period of the same length. Praefke Auto Electric & Battery Co., Inc. v. Tecumseh Products, Co. 110 F. Supp. 2d 899 (2000). Reversed on other grounds.
135.03 Annotation Plaintiffs could proceed under this chapter if they could adduce evidence either that defendant made a change in the competitive circumstances of their dealership agreements that had a discriminatory effect on them or that defendant's actions were intended to eliminate them or all of its dealers from the state. It is critical that plaintiff-dealers show an intent to terminate on the part of the grantor. Although it would not be enough to show that the grantor made bad management decisions; it might be enough if the plaintiff-dealers can show that the bad decisions were a cover for an intent to slough off the dealers and take over the markets they had developed. Conrad's Sentry, Inc. v. Supervalu, Inc. 357 F. Supp. 2d 1086 (2005).
135.03 Annotation Assignment of a second distributor in Wisconsin did not breach the agreement or cause a substantial change in the competitive circumstances of the nonexclusive dealership agreement in violation of s. 135.03. However, the defendant's assignment of a second distributorship was a violation of s. 135.04 because it caused a substantial change in the competitive circumstances of the plaintiff's truck blower distributorship and the defendant failed to provide the plaintiff with 90 days' written notice. Wisconsin Compressed Air Corp. v. Gardner Denver, Inc. 571 F. Supp. 2d 992 (2008).
135.03 Annotation When an action becomes so egregious as to amount to constructive termination of the dealership this section is violated. Constructive termination of a dealership agreement can occur when the grantor takes actions that amount to an effective end to the commercially meaningful aspects of the dealership relationship, regardless of whether the formal contractual relationship between the parties continues in force. Girl Scouts of Manitou Council, Inc. v. Girl Scouts of the United States of America, 700 F. Supp. 2d 1055 (2011). Affirmed in part, reversed in part. 646 F.3d 983 (2011).
135.03 Annotation "Good cause" is not limited to the statutory definition of the term under s. 135.02 (4). A grantor's own circumstances can constitute good cause for reasonable, essential, and nondiscriminatory changes in the way it does business with dealers. To show good cause for making a substantial change in the competitive circumstances of a dealership agreement, the grantor must demonstrate: 1) an objectively ascertainable need for change; 2) a proportionate response to that need; and (3) a nondiscriminatory action." This chapter makes no distinction between for-profit and not-for-profit entities, and, as such, the court cannot judicially craft a lower threshold for when not-for-profit organizations wish to substantially change the competitive circumstances of a dealership agreement. Girl Scouts of Manitou Council, Inc. v. Girl Scouts of the United States of America, 700 F. Supp. 2d 1055 (2011). Affirmed in part, reversed in part. 646 F.3d 983 (2011).
135.03 Annotation This chapter is applicable to nonprofit grantor's. Girl Scouts of Manitou Council, Inc. v. Girl Scouts of the United States of America, 646 F.3d 983 (2011).
135.03 Annotation Constructive Termination Under the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law. Cross and Janssen. Wis. Law. June 1997.
135.04 135.04 Notice of termination or change in dealership. Except as provided in this section, a grantor shall provide a dealer at least 90 days' prior written notice of termination, cancellation, nonrenewal or substantial change in competitive circumstances. The notice shall state all the reasons for termination, cancellation, nonrenewal or substantial change in competitive circumstances and shall provide that the dealer has 60 days in which to rectify any claimed deficiency. If the deficiency is rectified within 60 days the notice shall be void. The notice provisions of this section shall not apply if the reason for termination, cancellation or nonrenewal is insolvency, the occurrence of an assignment for the benefit of creditors or bankruptcy. If the reason for termination, cancellation, nonrenewal or substantial change in competitive circumstances is nonpayment of sums due under the dealership, the dealer shall be entitled to written notice of such default, and shall have 10 days in which to remedy such default from the date of delivery or posting of such notice.
135.04 History History: 1973 c. 179.
135.04 Annotation A grantor must give a 90-day notice when termination is for nonpayment of sums due. White Hen Pantry v. Buttke, 100 Wis. 2d 169, 301 N.W.2d 216 (1981).
135.04 Annotation The notice requirement of this section applies to substantial changes of circumstances of a dealership, not a dealership agreement. Actions that substantially change competitive circumstances and that are controlled by the grantor or are allowed by the dealership agreement require the statutory notice. Jungbluth v. Hometown, Inc. 201 Wis. 2d 320, 548 N.W.2d 519 (1996), 94-1523.
135.04 Annotation Steps that the grantor requires the dealer to take in order to rectify a deficiency must be reasonable. Al Bishop Agency, Inc. v. Lithonia, etc. 474 F. Supp. 828 (1979).
135.04 Annotation The notice requirement does not impermissibly burden interstate commerce. Designs in Medicine, Inc. v. Xomed, Inc. 522 F. Supp. 1054 (1981).
135.04 Annotation Remedies for termination should be available only for unequivocal terminations of the entire relationship. Meyer v. Kero-Sun, Inc. 570 F. Supp. 402 (1983).
135.04 Annotation The insolvency exception to the notice requirement did not apply to insolvency that was not known to the grantor at the time of termination. Bruno Wine & Spirits v. Guimarra Vineyards, 573 F. Supp. 337 (1983).
135.04 Annotation Assignment of a second distributor in Wisconsin did not breach the agreement or cause a substantial change in the competitive circumstances of the nonexclusive dealership agreement in violation of s. 135.03. However, the defendant's assignment of a second distributorship was a violation of s. 135.04 because it caused a substantial change in the competitive circumstances of the plaintiff's truck blower distributorship and the defendant failed to provide the plaintiff with 90 days' written notice. Wisconsin Compressed Air Corp. v. Gardner Denver, Inc. 571 F. Supp. 2d 992 (2008).
135.045 135.045 Repurchase of inventories. If a dealership is terminated by the grantor, the grantor, at the option of the dealer, shall repurchase all inventories sold by the grantor to the dealer for resale under the dealership agreement at the fair wholesale market value. This section applies only to merchandise with a name, trademark, label or other mark on it which identifies the grantor.
135.045 History History: 1977 c. 171.
135.045 Annotation "Fair wholesale market value" means wholesale price. Roedel-Hanson and Associates, Inc. v. Environamics, Corp. 242 F. Supp. 2d 582 (2003).
135.05 135.05 Application to arbitration agreements. This chapter shall not apply to provisions for the binding arbitration of disputes contained in a dealership agreement concerning the items covered in s. 135.03, if the criteria for determining whether good cause existed for a termination, cancellation, nonrenewal or substantial change of competitive circumstances, and the relief provided is no less than that provided for in this chapter.
135.05 History History: 1973 c. 179.
135.05 Annotation Federal law required enforcement of an arbitration clause even though that clause did not provide the relief guaranteed by this chapter, contrary to this section and 135.025. Madison Beauty Supply v. Helene Curtis, 167 Wis. 2d 237, 481 N.W.2d 644 (Ct. App. 1992).
135.06 135.06 Action for damages and injunctive relief. If any grantor violates this chapter, a dealer may bring an action against such grantor in any court of competent jurisdiction for damages sustained by the dealer as a consequence of the grantor's violation, together with the actual costs of the action, including reasonable actual attorney fees, and the dealer also may be granted injunctive relief against unlawful termination, cancellation, nonrenewal or substantial change of competitive circumstances.
135.06 History History: 1973 c. 179; 1993 a. 482.
135.06 Annotation In an action for termination of a dealership upon written notice not complying with this chapter and without good cause, the statute of limitations started running upon receipt of the termination notice. Les Moise, Inc. v. Rossignol Ski Co., Inc. 122 Wis. 2d 51, 361 N.W.2d 653 (1985).
135.06 Annotation The term "actual costs of the action" includes appellate attorney fees. Siegel v. Leer, Inc. 156 Wis. 2d 621, 457 N.W.2d 533 (Ct. App. 1990).
135.06 Annotation The measure of damages is discussed. C. A. May Marine Supply Co. v. Brunswick Corp. 649 F.2d 1049 (1981).
135.06 Annotation A cause of action accrued when a defective notice under s. 135.04 was given, not when the dealership was actually terminated. Hammil v. Rickel Mfg. Corp. 719 F.2d 252 (1983).
135.06 Annotation This section does not restrict recovery of damages with respect to inventory on hand at the time of termination to "fair wholesale market value." Kealey Pharmacy v. Walgreen Co. 761 F.2d 345 (1985).
135.06 Annotation Accountant fees were properly included under this section. Bright v. Land O' Lakes, Inc. 844 F.2d 436 (7th Cir. 1988).
135.06 Annotation There is no presumption in favor of injunctive relief and against damages for lost future profits. Frieburg Farm Equip. v. Van Dale, Inc. 978 F.2d 395 (1992).
135.06 Annotation The determination of damages and attorney fees is discussed. Esch v. Yazoo Manufacturing Company, Inc. 510 F. Supp. 53 (1981).
135.06 Annotation Punitive damages are not available in what is essentially an action for breach of contract. White Hen Pantry, Div. Jewel Companies v. Johnson, 599 F. Supp. 718 (1984).
135.06 Annotation An arbitration award that did not award attorney fees was enforceable. Parties may agree to bear their own legal expenses when resolving differences; what the parties may do, an arbitrator as their mutual agent may also do. George Watts & Son, Inc. v. Tiffany & Co. 248 F.3d 577 (2001).
135.065 135.065 Temporary injunctions. In any action brought by a dealer against a grantor under this chapter, any violation of this chapter by the grantor is deemed an irreparable injury to the dealer for determining if a temporary injunction should be issued.
135.065 History History: 1977 c. 171.
135.065 Annotation Four factors considered in granting preliminary injunction are discussed. The loss of good will constituted irreparable harm. Reinders Bros. v. Rain Bird Eastern Sales Corp. 627 F.2d 44 (1980).
135.065 Annotation The court did not abuse its discretion in granting a preliminary injunction notwithstanding the arguable likelihood that the defendant would ultimately prevail at trial. Menominee Rubber Co. v. Gould, Inc. 657 F.2d 164 (1981).
135.065 Annotation Although the plaintiff showed irreparable harm, the failure to show a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits precluded a preliminary injunction. Milwaukee Rentals, Inc. v. Budget Rent A Car Corp. 496 F. Supp. 253 (1980).
135.065 Annotation A presumption of irreparable harm exists in favor of a dealer when a violation is shown. For the presumption to apply, a dealership relationship must be shown to exist. Price Engineering Co., Inc. v. Vickes, Inc. 774 F. Supp. 1160 (1991).
135.065 Annotation If a plaintiff establishes the likelihood of a violation of this chapter, the statute creates a rebuttable of irreparable harm. The effect of the statute is to transfer from the plaintiff to the defendant the burden of going forward with evidence on the question of irreparable injury. If neither party presents evidence on the issue, the rebuttable presumption created by the statute requires a finding in favor of the dealer. If, however, the grantor presents evidence of the absence of irreparable injury, the presumption is no longer relevant, and the dealer must come forward with evidence negating the grantor's evidence. S&S Sales Corp. v. Marvin Lumber & Cedar Co., 435 F. Supp. 2d 879 (2006).
135.066 135.066 Intoxicating liquor dealerships.
135.066(1) (1) Legislative findings. The legislature finds that a balanced and healthy 3-tier system for distributing intoxicating liquor is in the best interest of this state and its citizens; that the 3-tier system for distributing intoxicating liquor has existed since the 1930's; that a balanced and healthy 3-tier system ensures a level system between the manufacturer and wholesale tiers; that a wholesale tier consisting of numerous healthy competitors is necessary for a balanced and healthy 3-tier system; that the number of intoxicating liquor wholesalers in this state is in significant decline; that this decline threatens the health and stability of the wholesale tier; that the regulation of all intoxicating liquor dealerships, regardless of when they were entered into, is necessary to promote and maintain a wholesale tier consisting of numerous healthy competitors; and that the maintenance and promotion of the 3-tier system will promote the public health, safety and welfare. The legislature further finds that a stable and healthy wholesale tier provides an efficient and effective means for tax collection. The legislature further finds that dealerships between intoxicating liquor wholesalers and manufacturers have been subject to state regulation since the enactment of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that the parties to those dealerships expect changes to state legislation regarding those dealerships.
135.066(2) (2)Definitions.
135.066(2)(a)(a) "Intoxicating liquor" has the meaning given in s. 125.02 (8) minus wine.
135.066(5) (5)Nonapplicability. This section does not apply to any of the following dealerships:
135.066(5)(a) (a) Dealerships in which a grantor, including any affiliate, division or subsidiary of the grantor, has never produced more than 200,000 gallons of intoxicating liquor in any year.
135.066(5)(b) (b) Dealerships in which the dealer's net revenues from the sale of all of the grantor's brands of intoxicating liquor constitute less than 5% of the dealer's total net revenues from the sale of intoxicating liquor during the dealer's most recent fiscal year preceding a grantor's cancellation or alteration of a dealership.
135.066(6) (6)Severability. The provisions of this section are severable as provided in s. 990.001 (11).
135.066 History History: 1999 a. 9.
135.07 135.07 Nonapplicability. This chapter does not apply:
135.07(1) (1) To a dealership to which a motor vehicle dealer or motor vehicle distributor or wholesaler as defined in s. 218.0101 is a party in such capacity.
135.07(2) (2) To the insurance business.
135.07(3) (3) Where goods or services are marketed by a dealership on a door to door basis.
135.07 History History: 1973 c. 179; 1975 c. 371; 1999 a. 31.
135.07 Annotation When a "dealer" under ch. 135 is also a "franchisee" under ch. 553, the commissioner of securities may deny, suspend, or revoke the franchisor's registration or revoke its exemption if the franchisor has contracted to violate or avoid the provisions of ch. 135. Ch. 135 expresses public policy and its provisions may not be waived. 66 Atty. Gen. 11.
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2011-12 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2013 Wis. Act 380 and all Supreme Court Orders entered before Oct. 4, 2014. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after Oct. 4, 2014 are designated by NOTES. (Published 10-4-14)