Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

PUBLIC LAWS OF MAINE
First Special Session of the 118th

CHAPTER 427
H.P. 880 - L.D. 1197

An Act to Regulate Recreational Vehicle Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

     Sec. 1. 10 MRSA 1361, sub-8, as enacted by PL 1993, c. 195, 1, is amended to read:

     8. Goods. "Goods" means residential, recreational, agricultural, farm, commercial or business equipment, machinery or appliances that use electricity, gas, wood, a petroleum product or a derivative of a petroleum product, for operation. "Goods" does not include motor vehicles as defined in section 1171, subsection 11 and recreational vehicles as defined in section 1432, subsection 18.

     Sec. 2. 10 MRSA c. 214-A is enacted to read:

CHAPTER 214-A
RECREATIONAL VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS AND DEALERS

1431. Short title

     This chapter may be known and cited as the "Regulation of Business Practices between Recreational Vehicle Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers."

1432. Definitions

     As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.

     1. Camping trailer. "Camping trailer" means a trailer constructed with collapsible partial side walls that fold for towing by another vehicle and unfold at the campsite to provide temporary living quarters for recreational, camping or travel use.

     2. Dealer. "Dealer" means a recreational vehicle dealer to whom a dealer agreement is offered or granted.

     3. Dealer agreement. "Dealer agreement" means an oral or written arrangement for a definite or indefinite period in which a manufacturer, distributor or wholesaler grants to a recreational vehicle dealer a license to use a trade name, service mark or related characteristic and in which there is a community of interest in the marketing of recreational vehicles or services related to recreational vehicles at wholesale, retail or leasing.

     4. Designated family member. "Designated family member" means the spouse, child, grandchild, parent, brother or sister of the owner of a new recreational vehicle dealer who, in the case of the owner's death, is entitled to inherit the ownership interest in the new recreational vehicle dealership under the terms of the owner's will or who, in the case of an incapacitated owner of a new recreational vehicle dealership, has been appointed by a court as the legal representative of the new recreational vehicle dealer's property.

     5. Distributor branch. "Distributor branch" means a branch office maintained by a distributor or wholesaler that sells or distributes new or used recreational vehicles to recreational vehicle dealers.

     6. Distributor representative. "Distributor representative" means a representative employed by a distributor branch, distributor or wholesaler.

     7. Distributor or wholesaler. "Distributor" or "wholesaler" means any person that sells or distributes new or used recreational vehicles to recreational vehicle dealers or that maintains distributor representatives within this State.

     8. Factory branch. "Factory branch" means a branch maintained by a manufacturer that manufactures or assembles recreational vehicles for sale to distributors or recreational vehicle dealers or that is maintained for directing and supervising the representatives of the manufacturer.

     9. Factory representative. "Factory representative" means a representative employed by a manufacturer or employed by a factory branch for the purpose of making or promoting the sale of recreational vehicles or for contracting with, supervising, servicing, or instructing or contracting recreational vehicle dealers or prospective recreational vehicle dealers.

     10. Fifth-wheel trailer. "Fifth-wheel trailer" means a trailer designed to provide temporary living quarters for recreational, camping or travel use, of such size or weight as not to require special highway movement permits and designed to be towed by a motor vehicle that contains a towing mechanism mounted above or forward of the tow vehicle's rear axle.

     11. Fraud. "Fraud" includes, in addition to its normal legal connotation, a misrepresentation in any manner, whether intentionally false or due to gross negligence of a material fact, a promise or representation not made honestly and in good faith and an intentional failure to disclose a material fact.

     12. Good faith. "Good faith" means honesty in fact and the observance of reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing in the trade as defined in Title 11, section 2103, subsection (1), paragraph (b).

     13. Manufacturer. "Manufacturer" means any person, resident or nonresident, that manufactures or assembles new recreational vehicles or imports for distribution through distributors of recreational vehicles, or any person, resident or nonresident, that is controlled by the manufacturer who grants a dealer agreement to a recreational vehicle dealer. "Manufacturer" includes distributor or wholesaler, distributor branch, distributor representative, factory branch and factory representative.

     14. Motor vehicle. Motor vehicle has the same meaning as defined in Title 29-A, section 101, subsection 42.

     15. New recreational vehicle. "New recreational vehicle" means a recreational vehicle that has not been previously sold to any person except a distributor or wholesaler or recreational vehicle dealer for resale.

     16. Person. "Person" means a natural person, corporation, partnership, trust or other entity. In the case of an entity, "person" includes any other entity in which it has a majority interest or effectively controls, as well as the individual officers, directors and other persons in active control of the activities of each such entity.

     17. Recreational vehicle dealer. "Recreational vehicle dealer" means any person who sells or solicits or advertises the sale of new recreational vehicles. "Recreation vehicle dealer" does not include receivers, trustees, administrators, executors, guardians or other persons appointed by or acting under judgment, decree or order of any court or public officers while performing their duties as those officers.

     18. Recreational vehicle. "Recreational vehicle" means a vehicle primarily designed as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, travel or seasonal use that either is mounted on or towed by another vehicle. "Recreational vehicle" includes, but is not limited to, a camping trailer, fifth-wheel trailer, travel trailer and truck camper.

     19. Sale. "Sale" means the issuance, transfer, agreement for transfer, exchange, pledge, hypothecation or mortgage in any form, whether by transfer in trust or otherwise, of any recreational vehicle or interest in a recreational vehicle or of any dealer agreement related to a recreational vehicle and any option, subscription or other contract, or solicitation looking to a sale, or any offer or attempt to sell in any form, whether spoken or written. A gift or delivery of any recreational vehicle with or as a bonus on account of the sale of anything is considered a sale of that recreational vehicle.

     20. Trailer. "Trailer" means a vehicle without motive power and mounted on wheels, designed to carry persons or property and to be drawn by a motor vehicle and not operated on tracks.

     21. Travel trailer. "Travel trailer" means a trailer designed to provide temporary living quarters for recreational, camping or travel use, of such size or weight as not to require special highway movement permits when towed by a motor vehicle.

     22. Truck camper. "Truck camper" means a portable unit constructed to provide temporary living quarters for recreational, travel or camping use, consisting of a roof, floor and sides, designed to be loaded onto and unloaded from the bed of a truck.

1433. Application

     Any person who engages directly or indirectly in purposeful contacts within this State in connection with the offering or advertising for sale or has business dealings with respect to a new recreational vehicle within the State is subject to this chapter.

1434. Prohibited conduct

     The following acts are unfair methods of competition and unfair and deceptive practices. It is unlawful for any:

     1. Damage to public. Manufacturer or recreational vehicle dealer to engage in any action that is arbitrary, in bad faith or unconscionable and causes damage to any manufacturer or dealer parties or to the public;

     2. Coercion involving deliveries and orders. Manufacturer or officer, agent or other representative of that manufacturer to coerce or attempt to coerce any recreational vehicle dealer:

     3. Certain interference in dealer's business. Manufacturer or officer, agent or other representative of that manufacturer:

     4. Dealer violations. Recreational vehicle dealer:

1435.  Limitations on establishing or relocating dealerships

     A new recreational vehicle dealership may not be established and an existing recreational vehicle dealership may not be relocated, except as follows.

     1. Notification. If a manufacturer seeks to enter into a dealer agreement establishing an additional new recreational vehicle dealership or relocating an existing new recreational vehicle dealership, within or into a relevant market area where the same line make is already represented, the manufacturer shall notify, in writing, each new recreational vehicle dealer in the line make in the relevant market area of the intention to establish an additional dealership or to relocate an existing dealership within or into that market area. The relevant market area is a radius of 15 miles around an existing dealership in the following cities: Augusta, Auburn, Bangor, Biddeford, Brewer, Falmouth, Lewiston, Portland, Saco, South Portland, Waterville and Westbrook. The relevant market area is a radius of 30 miles around all other existing dealerships.

Within 30 days of receiving the notice or within 30 days after the end of any appeal procedure provided by the manufacturer, a new recreational vehicle dealership may file a complaint in the Superior Court of the county in which the dealership is located, protesting the establishment or relocation of the new recreational vehicle dealership. When a complaint is filed, the manufacturer may not establish or relocate the proposed new recreational vehicle dealership until a hearing has been held on the merits of establishing or relocating that recreational vehicle dealership, and that dealership may not be established or relocated if the court has determined that there is good cause for not permitting the new recreational vehicle dealership. For the purposes of this section, the reopening in a relevant market area of a new recreational vehicle dealership that has not been in operation for one year or more is considered the establishment of an additional new recreational vehicle dealership.

     2. Good cause. In determining whether good cause has been established for not entering into a new dealer agreement or relocating an additional dealer for the same line make, the court shall take into consideration the existing circumstances, including, but not limited to:

1436. Transportation damages

     1. Liability of new dealer after acceptance. Notwithstanding the terms, provisions or conditions of any agreement or dealer agreement, the new recreational vehicle dealer is solely liable for damages to new recreational vehicles after acceptance from the carrier and before delivery to the ultimate purchaser.

     2. Liability of manufacturer. Notwithstanding the terms, provisions or conditions of any agreement or dealer agreement, the manufacturer is liable for all damages to recreational vehicles before delivery to a carrier or transporter.

     3. Additional liability of dealer. The new recreational vehicle dealer is liable for damages to new recreational vehicles after delivery to the carrier only if the dealer selects the method of transportation, mode of transportation and the carrier. In all other instances, the manufacturer is liable for carrier-related new recreational vehicle damage, as long as the new recreational vehicle dealer annotates the bill of lading or other carrier document indicating damages observed at the time of delivery to the new recreational vehicle dealer and promptly notifies the manufacturer of any concealed damage discovered after delivery.

1437. Survivorship

     1. Right of family member. The right of a designated family member to succeed in dealer ownership is governed by the following provisions.

     2. Refusal to honor; notice required. The refusal to honor the right of the designated family member to succeed in dealer ownership is governed by the following provisions.

     3. Written designation of succession unaffected. This section does not preclude a new recreational vehicle dealer from designating any person, by written instrument filed with the manufacturer, as that dealer's successor.

1438.  Delivery and preparation obligations; product liability and implied warranty complaints

     A manufacturer shall specify to the dealer the delivery and preparation obligations of its recreational vehicle dealers prior to delivery of new recreational vehicles to retail buyers. The delivery and preparation obligations of its recreational vehicle dealers and a schedule of the compensation to be paid to its recreational vehicle dealers for the work and services the dealers are required to perform in connection with the delivery and preparation are the dealer's only responsibility for product liability between that dealer and that manufacturer. The compensation stated in the schedule must be reasonable.

     In any action or claim brought against the recreational vehicle dealer on a product liability complaint in which it is later determined that the manufacturer is liable, the dealer is entitled to receive from the manufacturer its reasonable costs and attorney's fees incurred in defending the claim or action.

     In any action or claim brought against the recreational vehicle dealer on a breach of implied warranty complaint in which it is later determined that the manufacturer is liable, the dealer is entitled to receive from the manufacturer the dealer's reasonable costs and attorney's fees incurred in defending the claim or action. In any implied warranty action, a dealer has the rights of a buyer under Title 11, section 2-607, subsection (5).

     The court shall consider the recreational vehicle dealer's share in the responsibility for the damages in awarding costs and attorney's fees.

1439. Warranty

     1. Parts or labor; satisfaction of warranty. If a manufacturer requires or permits a recreational vehicle dealer to perform labor or provide parts in satisfaction of a warranty created by the manufacturer, the manufacturer shall properly and promptly fulfill its warranty obligations and:

     2. Claim. Any claim made by a dealer for compensation for parts provided or for reimbursement for labor performed in satisfaction of a warranty must be paid within 30 days of its approval. All the claims must be either approved or disapproved within 30 days of their receipt. When any claim is disapproved, the dealer that submitted the claim must be notified in writing of the claim's disapproval within that 30-day period with the specific reasons for its disapproval.

     3. Audits. The manufacturer is permitted to audit claims within a 2-year period from the date the claim was paid or credit issued by the manufacturer and to charge back any false or unsubstantiated claims. If there is evidence of fraud, this subsection does not limit the right of the manufacturer to audit for longer periods and charge back for any fraudulent claim.

     4. Restrictions prohibited. A manufacturer may not, by agreement, by restriction upon reimbursement or otherwise, restrict the nature or extent of labor performed or parts provided if the restriction impairs the dealer's ability to satisfy a warranty created by the manufacturer by performing labor in a professional manner or by providing parts required in accordance with generally accepted standards.

     5. Costs; fees. In any claim that is disapproved by the manufacturer and in which the dealer brings legal action to collect the disapproved claim and is successful in the action, the court shall award the dealer the cost of the action together with reasonable attorney's fees. If the manufacturer is successful in the action, the court shall award the manufacturer the cost of the action together with reasonable attorney's fees, but not to exceed the amount expended by the dealer in bringing the action. Reasonable attorney's fees are determined by the value of the time reasonably expended by the attorney and not by the amount of the recovery on behalf of, or sought by, the dealer.

     6. Motor homes. For the purposes of this section only, a manufacturer of motor homes, as defined in Title 29-A, section 101, subsection 40, shall reimburse a dealer of motor homes for parts of systems, appliances, furnishings, accessories and fixtures of a motor home that are designed, used and maintained primarily for nonvehicular residential purposes.

1440. Mediation and arbitration of manufacturer; dealer disputes

     1. Mediation. Neither a dealer nor a manufacturer may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction based on an alleged violation of this chapter unless the dealer or manufacturer first serves a demand for mediation upon the other before bringing the action.

     2. Demand for mediation. A demand for mediation must be in writing and served on the other party by certified mail at an address designated within the sales agreement. The demand for mediation must contain a brief statement of the dispute and the relief sought by the party filing the demand. Within 20 days after the date a demand for mediation is served, the parties shall mutually select an independent mediator and meet with that mediator for the purpose of attempting to resolve the dispute. The mediator may extend the date of the meeting for good cause shown by either party or upon stipulation of both parties.

     3. Effect of demand. The service of a demand for mediation under subsection 1 stays the time for the filing of any action under this chapter until the representatives of both parties have met with a mutually selected mediator for the purpose of resolving the dispute. If an action is filed before the meeting, the court shall enter an order suspending the action until the meeting has occurred and, upon written stipulation of all parties to the action that the parties wish to continue to mediate under this subsection, may enter an order suspending the action for as long as the court considers appropriate. A suspension order may be revoked upon motion of any party or upon motion of the court.

     4. Arbitration. If a dispute arises under this chapter, the dealer may voluntarily agree to submit that dispute to binding or nonbinding arbitration. An arbitration proceeding must be voluntary, initiated by serving a written request for arbitration on the other party and conducted under the provisions of the Maine Uniform Arbitration Act.

     5. Civil liability immunity. A mediator or arbitrator is immune from civil liability for any good faith act or omission within the scope of the mediator's or arbitrator's performance of powers and duties under this section. Every act or omission is presumed to be a good faith act or omission. This presumption may be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence.

1441. Unreasonable restrictions

     It is unlawful directly or indirectly to impose unreasonable restrictions on the recreational vehicle dealer relative to transfer, sale, right to renew, termination, discipline, noncompetition covenants, right of first refusal to purchase, option to purchase, compliance with subjective standards or assertion of legal or equitable rights.

1442. Covered under written or oral agreements

     1. Agreements subject to this chapter. Written or oral agreements between a manufacturer and a recreational vehicle dealer, including, but not limited to, the dealer agreement offering, the dealer agreement, sales agreement, sales of goods, services or advertising, leases or mortgages of real or personal property, promises to pay, security interests, pledges, insurance contracts, advertising contracts, construction or installation contracts, servicing contracts and all other agreements in which the manufacturer has any direct or indirect interest are subject to this chapter. Any agreement renewed or continued beyond its term after the effective date of this chapter is subject to this chapter.

     2. Copy of agreement or amendments. Before any new selling agreement or any amendment between the parties becomes effective, the manufacturer or officer, agent or other representative of the manufacturer, 90 days prior to the effective date of the agreement or amendment, shall forward a copy of the agreement or amendment to the dealer.

1443. Dealership interest; vested rights

     Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it is unlawful for the manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor, without due cause, to fail to renew a dealer agreement on terms then equally available to all its recreational vehicle dealers, to terminate a dealer agreement or to restrict the transfer of right under a dealer agreement unless the dealer receives fair and reasonable compensation for the value of the business.

1444. Dealer's right to associate

     Any dealer has the right of free association with other dealers for any lawful purpose.

1445. Discounts and other inducements

     In connection with a sale of a recreational vehicle or vehicles to the State or to any political subdivision of the State, a manufacturer may not offer discounts, refunds or any other similar type of inducement to a dealer without making the same offer or offers to all its dealers within the relevant market area. If inducements are made, the manufacturer shall give simultaneous notice of those inducements to all of its dealers within the relevant market area.

1446. Public policy

     A contract or part of a contract or practice under a contract in violation of any provision of this chapter is against public policy and is void and unenforceable. An existing contract or part of a contract or practice in violation of any provision of this chapter is against public policy and is void and unenforceable to the extent that it is in conflict with this chapter.

1447. Civil remedies

     Any recreational vehicle dealer who has been damaged by reason of a violation of a provision of this chapter may bring an action to enjoin that violation and to recover any damages arising from that violation of any part of this chapter. A final judgment, order or decree rendered against a person in any civil, criminal or administrative proceeding under the federal antitrust laws, the Federal Trade Commission Act or under the Maine Revised Statutes is prima facie evidence against that person subject to the conditions set forth in the federal antitrust laws, 15 United States Code, Section 16.

1448. Statute of limitation

     Actions arising out of any provision of this chapter must be commenced within 4 years after the cause of action accrues. If a person liable under this chapter conceals the cause of action from the knowledge of the person entitled to bring it, the period prior to the discovery of the cause of action by the person so entitled is excluded in determining the time limited for commencement of the action. If a cause of action accrues during the pendency of any civil, criminal or administrative proceeding against a person brought by the United States or any of its agencies under the antitrust laws, the Federal Trade Commission Act or any other federal Act or the laws of the State related to antitrust laws or to franchising, that action may be commenced within one year after the final disposition of the civil, criminal or administrative proceeding.

1449. Construction

     In construing this chapter the courts may be guided by the interpretations of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 United States Code, Section 45.

     If any provision of this chapter is declared unconstitutional or the applicability of this chapter to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the constitutionality of the remainder of this chapter and the applicability of this chapter to persons and circumstances is not affected.

1450. Jurisdiction

     A person who violates any provisions of this chapter is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this State upon service of process in accordance with Title 14, chapter 203 and consistent with the maximum limits of due process as decided by the United States Supreme Court.

1450-A. Penalty

     A person who violates this chapter is guilty of a Class E crime.

Effective September 19, 1997, unless otherwise indicated.

Revisor of Statutes Homepage Subject Index Search Laws of Maine Maine Legislature

About the Laws Of Maine

Previous PageTop Of PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Office of the Revisor of Statutes
State House, Room 108
Augusta, Maine 04333
(207) 287-1650 Fax: (207) 287-6468

Contact the Office of the Revisor of Statutes