Automotive and Manufacturing Law

Providing breakthrough counsel at the center of the automotive world for more than a century. Within the steel and sweat of an emerging Detroit in 1890, we hung our first shingle and quickly became known throughout the region as the expert, go-to automotive firm. We have not looked in the rear view mirror since.

We forged ahead like so many hardworking automotive OEMs, suppliers, dealers and distributors with a relentless commitment to deliver. We’ve been the steadfast navigator through the industry’s hills and curves of ever-changing consumer demands, production volume shifts and increasing government regulations—challenges that make the automotive industry so unique and demanding.

All roads lead to Clark Hill for mission-critical, highly specialized issues ranging from labor disputes and supplier contracts to product liability and automotive recalls.

Whether you’re a multinational manufacturer, a family-owned car dealership, a national parts distributor, or a small tier-two parts supplier, Clark Hill will help you navigate the road ahead with clarity and confidence.

We have assembled a global team of former automotive executives, manufacturers, suppliers, and general counsel to provide clients with best-in-class service and an unmatched level of expertise. Our team, approach and firm framework ensure client responsiveness with speed and precision to every automotive legal matter.

We continue to lead and serve clients in all aspects of automotive matters, including:

  • Warranty cost allocation arrangements
  • Directed supplier arrangements
  • Purchase order terms and conditions
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations and investigations, including those involving the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act
  • NHTSA recall and product liability issues
  • Product liability lawsuits
  • Domestic and international mergers and acquisitions
  • Joint ventures
  • Distribution arrangements
  • Supplier and customer workouts and bankruptcies
  • Intellectual property arrangements and trademark infringement claims
  • General commercial arrangements
  • Resolution of warranty disputes between suppliers and auto manufacturers
  • National case management
  • Preferences
  • Terms & conditions
  • Expertise in Manufacturing and Beyond

Expertise In Manufacturing and Beyond

The automotive industry is deeply connected to the manufacturing world. These integrated sectors continue to evolve and expand alongside the rapid growth of the service sector and green economy.  It takes a firm like Clark Hill, with a heritage of achieving results, to provide comprehensive litigation, transaction and regulatory services critical to the daily operation of manufacturing companies.

Our proven experience and responsiveness help manufacturers keep their focus on their core business. With attorneys and professionals who have led manufacturing and engineering businesses, Clark Hill is a vital partner for manufacturing clients in labor and employment law, government regulations, risk management, real estate, contract preparation, corporate governance, succession planning, finance, litigation, mergers, and sales.

At Clark Hill we understand industry-critical issues and help manufacturing clients successfully work through a myriad of challenges.

Experience

Representation of an automotive parts supplier in its acquisition of an after-market motorcycle parts manufacturing and supply company.

Advising automotive suppliers in the analysis, negotiation and modification of OEM and Tier 1 customer purchasing terms and conditions

Advising a Tier 1 manufacturer of plastic automotive components on a capital restructuring with a private equity sponsor

CNH Capital America LLC v. Trainor Grain & Supply, Co, et al., 478 B.R. 876, 78 U.C.C. Rep. Serv. 2d 782 (2012). Obtained summary judgment on behalf of a lender claiming rights to crop proceeds under the Uniform Commercial Code against a grain elevator claiming setoff rights under both a contract and the Food Security Act.

Homeplace of Am., Inc. v. Salton, Inc. (In re Waccamaw’s Homeplace), 325 B.R. 524 (Bankr. D. Del. 2005). Defended a manufacturer in a $3.5 Million preference action in a week-long trial in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware

Advising a Canadian Tier 1 automotive supplier on the acquisition of an OEM vehicle assembly facility from a U.S. Tier 1 automotive supplier. 

Advising an industrial manufacturer on the sale of its plastics pipe business a Swiss piping systems manufacturer. 

Advising a U.S. steel manufacturer on the purchase of industrial manufacturing equipment in excess of $100 million from a Japanese supplier. 

Advising the City of New York on a vehicle supply agreement with Nissan North America for the Taxi of Tomorrow. 

Counsel to several large Tier 1 automotive suppliers in the troubled supplier cases of General Motors Corporation (New York, N.Y.), Dura Automotive, Inc. (Wilmington, Del.), Delphi Corporation (New York, N.Y.), among others

Representation of the administrative agent for the senior secured lender group in the Chapter 11 case of a steel manufacturer that involved the orderly liquidation of the company’s major steel-making components and obtaining court approval for the $40,000,000 sale of the company’s primary assets over the objections of an alternative purchaser.
Counsel to the administrative agent and lead arranger with respect to an $85,000,000 senior secured asset-based revolving credit facility including a letter of credit subfacility for a manufacturing company in the styrofoam business. The proceeds of the credit facility were used to refinance existing senior indebtedness of the company and were also used for general corporate and working capital purposes. The credit facility was secured by liens on substantially all of such company's personal property (excluding equipment).
Represented the purchaser of a company operating textile manufacturing and finishing facilities.
Represented medical manufacturer with respect to its manufacturing and joint venture agreements, technology licenses, distribution agreements corporate governance issues, and other commercial matters.

Represented the Agent with respect to an asset based credit facility, the proceeds of which were used, among other things, to finance the acquisition by the borrower of substantially all the United States and Mexican assets of a company in the steel racking business. The credit facility was fully secured by all the assets of the borrower and was guaranteed by the borrower's Mexican subsidiaries, which guarantees were secured by assets in Mexico.

Counsel to the administrative agent and lead arranger in connection with a $202,000,000 senior secured credit facility to finance the acquisition of the stock of a specialty metals company. The credit facility is secured by all assets of the loan parties, including all of the capital stock of each of the loan parties. The credit facility also involved the merger of the acquired company into the borrower, as well as the negotiation of a subordination agreement with third party lenders who helped to finance the acquisition.

Represented a Fortune 500 corporation in connection with the sale of a multi-million dollar manufacturing facility
Counsel to the administrative agent and lead arranger with respect to approximately $160,000,000 in senior secured credit facilities consisting of first lien, second lien and fully subordinated tranches as well as letter of credit and working cash sub-facilities for a specialized manufacturing company with U.S. and Canadian operations. The credit facilities provided for the recapitalization of and working capital for the loan parties and are secured by liens on substantially all of such parties' real and personal U.S. and Canadian assets.
Represented the Agent with respect to a $325,000,000 asset based credit facility involving multiple borrowers (one of which is a public company) and guarantors in the steel industry. The credit facility included a letter of credit facility available in foreign currency, an accordion feature, springing cash dominion and springing financial covenants.
Counsel to the agent in connection with an approximately $41,000,000 debtor-in-possession financing of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of a steel storage systems manufacturer that involved the roll-up of the syndicate's pre-petition debt and the negotiation of a consensual, orderly liquidation of the debtor's domestic and foreign assets with the committee of unsecured creditors and a junior secured creditor.
Representation of the purchaser in the successful $12,500,000 asset acquisition of the largest fireworks manufacturer and show presenter in the United States. The representation included assisting the client in the closing of a credit facility to partially fund the acquisition.
Counsel to a tubular and specialty steel company in connection with acquisition of a manufacturing facility in Ohio, including subdivision thereof to isolate areas of property affected by environmental contamination Acquisition of a Greenfield site in Kentucky for purposes of construction of a new manufacturing facility
Represented the Agent with respect to a $325,000,000 asset based credit facility involving multiple borrowers and guarantors in the scrap industry with a significant presence overseas. The credit facility involved the merger of two (2) publicly held companies and was closed in connection with a high yield bond offering secured by equipment and real estate. The credit facility included an accordion feature, springing cash dominion and springing financial covenants.
Counsel to a financial institution in connection with a $90,000,000 credit facility which included a $50,000,000 revolving credit facility and a $40,000,000 term loan facility for a holding company that owns and operates various equipment manufacturers and a marine transportation provider. The credit facilities provided for the recapitalization of the holding company and for working capital for the holding company and its subsidiaries and are secured by liens on all of the marine transportation provider's assets which include, among other things, various vessels, some of which were documented by the United States Secretary of Transportation
News
Clark Hill Attorney Linda M. Watson to Present “Insights and Analysis of OEM Warranty Programs for Suppliers" for OESA on March 26, 2015Clark Hill Attorney William J. Kohler to Present at Driving Intelligent Mobility in Michigan on April 30, 2014Clark Hill Attorneys William J. Kohler and Jennifer Woods to present at the International Fasteners InstituteClark Hill Attorney Linda M. Watson Moderated a Panel Discussion for Original Equipment Suppliers Association Legal Issues Council October 23, 2013Clark Hill Automotive Group Welcomes Congressman Gary Peters to their Detroit OfficeSecretary of Commerce Dr. Rebecca Blank Leads Roundtable Discussion with Tier 1 Suppliers at Clark Hill PLC, Jan. 14, 2013Clark Hill PLC Attorney Linda M. Watson to Present at OESA’s “2012 OEM Warranty: Real Stories, Winning Solutions and Best Practices” sponsored by Clark Hill PLC – Dec 4Clark Hill Attorney Timothy M. McCarthy to Present at Manufacturing Outlook 2013: An American RenaissanceClark Hill Attorneys William Kohler and Linda Watson Author Article on Warranty Cost Sharing for Stout Risius Ross Journal MagazineClark Hill Attorney Linda M. Watson to Present During OESA’s Legal Issues Council Fall MeetingAttorney Linda Watson to Present at OESA Ordinary Warranty Cost Allocation Terms DiscussionClark Hill Attorney Linda M. Watson Featured in Corp! MagazineClark Hill Attorney Linda M. Watson to Present In-House Counsel Webinar "Trade Secrets & Security Issues"Clark Hill Attorney Linda M. Watson Featured in Original Equipment Suppliers Association’s May Newsletter