A battle between two Chrysler and Jeep dealerships appears to be brewing in northwest Las Vegas.
Jim Marsh lost his franchises for selling Chrysler and Jeep vehicles in 2009 after Chrysler Corp. filed for bankruptcy. Marsh on Tuesday was notified that he won his arbitration case and may start selling new Chrysler vehicles again, the law firm Gordon Silver said Wednesday.
The legal wrangling may not be over, however, because another dealer started selling Chryslers and Jeeps down the street while Marsh was challenging the loss of the franchises.
The Towbin family opened Prestige Chrysler Jeep Dodge on April 1, which is about 0.8 miles away at 6520 Centennial Center Blvd. according to Google Maps. The Towbin location previously sold Infiniti cars.
A Prestige spokeswoman had no immediate comment, and Towbin Automotive Chief Executive Officer Carolynn Towbin didn't return a call for comment.
Attorney Bradley Richardson said he assumed Marsh would sell Chryslers and Jeeps from his existing location, 8555 W. Centennial Parkway. Marsh was reported to be out of town and unavailable for comment.
Richardson declined to discuss rules over selling the same types of new cars in the same area.
An official with the Department of Motor Vehicles, however, pointed to a state law that allows a dealer to protest if a competitor seeks a state license to sell the same line of new cars in the same marketing area. The DMV director may refuse to issue a dealership license for the new car store if he agrees with the protest.
However, the state law exempts dealerships that have been out of operation for fewer than two years and then reopen. Marsh appears to qualify for the exemption.
Will Marsh and Towbin both be allowed to sell Jeeps and Chryslers in the same neighborhood?
"I can't imagine that two dealerships (selling the same new-car brands) will be operated in the same area," said Tyler Corder, chief financial officer of Findlay Automotive Group.
Don Hamerick, general manager of Chapman Dodge at 3175 E. Sahara Ave., offered a similar perspective.
"It's going to be an interesting set of circumstances," he said.
Hamerick expects to be competing against only one Jeep-Chrysler dealership in the northwest, either the Marsh or the Towbin store, but not both.
Marsh was among about 780 former Chrysler dealers who lost their dealerships in May 2009 in the wake of the Chrysler Corp. bankruptcy filing.
Marsh is one of the few to win in arbitration although others may have negotiated settlements with Chrysler, Richardson said.
Observers didn't know of any other new-car dealers in Southern Nevada that sought arbitration over loss of franchises.
Other new-car sellers applauded Marsh's victory.
"It's always good to see the little guy win," said Mike Henle, who does public relations for new-car dealers at the Idea Co.
Corder said, "Good for Jim."
Hamerick said, "Excellent."
Mitch Lunt, 81, owner of Lunt Motor Co. in Cedar City, Utah, said, "That's wonderful."
Lunt's father and uncle started selling Dodges in 1934, but Lunt Motor was among eight dealers that lost franchises with Chrysler Corp. last year. He said that one of the dealers was allowed to resume selling new Chrysler products.
Lunt sought arbitration but decided to drop the case when his attorneys said Chrysler would manage to prevent him from selling its vehicles even if he won. Attempts to reach Chrysler Corp. failed.
Said Lunt, "We've never been given a good answer of why we were terminated."
Contact reporter John G. Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0420.