Scores of automotive suppliers look to Warner Norcross & Judd for timely and cutting-edge advice. From multinational Fortune 500 companies to family-owned tier-two suppliers and small start-ups, we understand the complicated relationships between parts suppliers and vehicle manufacturers. That’s why we stay on top of the regulations, sourcing issues, disputes and environmental concerns that shape these relationships.

We provide counsel on highly specialized issues such as product liability, supplier contracts, automotive recalls and labor disputes. We also offer broad experience in litigation, M&A and in general business areas, such as real estate and construction, intellectual property, bankruptcy, environmental law and others.

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Located in the heart of the U.S. automotive industry, Warner Norcross works with companies throughout Michigan and around the globe. We have extensive experience in China, Mexico, Europe and Japan — both in locating American companies there and in helping transplants establish operations here.

Here is a sampling of what we do:

  • Principal outside counsel for several global automotive suppliers on all supply-related issues
  • Litigation counsel for automotive finance company and responsible for all commercial litigation in the Eastern United States
  • National litigation counsel for large automotive and aerospace parts supplier, successfully prosecuting and defending suits throughout the United States
  • Represented automotive suppliers in several major automotive bankruptcy cases in the U.S.
  • Served as debtor's counsel in automotive supplier Chapter 11 case, resulting in the sale of supplier’s operating assets for $45 million
  • Represented U.S. piston ring business in a Chapter 11 proceeding and Section 363 sale
  • Represented U.S. coatings company in its expansion into Canada, Taiwan and China
  • Assisted in Tier II supplier's acquisition of Tier I supplier's plants
  • Represented Japanese company in sale of automotive parts stamping facilities in Alabama
  • Facilitated stock purchase between automotive seat component manufacturers
  • Oversaw wind down and liquidation of CAD/CAM supplier to OEMs and Tier I suppliers  
  • Represented U.S. company in its sale of hydraulic systems and fluid power business to European company
  • Assisted in real estate and equipment asset purchase between automotive supplier businesses
  • Facilitated U.S. company's asset purchase of a metal automotive parts manufacturing facility located in Mexico
  • Assisted in sale of plastic injection mold factory by Tier I supplier following a major acquisition
  • Assisted in a series of multiple acquisitions and divestitures by affiliated plastic automotive parts suppliers
  • Represented management buyers of a publicly traded robotics business in a going-private transaction

Areas Of Focus

Our automotive attorneys offer a full range of legal services in areas such as:

Bankruptcy and Creditors' Rights

  • Representing secured creditors, debtors and creditors committees in bankruptcy cases and workout transactions
  • Structuring business transactions designed to anticipate bankruptcy problems

        Related Attorneys: Robert H. Skilton III

Commercial Litigation

  • Supply chain terms and conditions negotiations, dispute resolution and litigation
  • Standard terms of purchase and sale
  • Dealer and distributor agreements
  • Sales representative agreements
  • Requirements and exclusive dealing contracts
  • Tooling contracts, recovery and lien disputes
  • Consignments
  • Review and negotiation of loan documents
  • Buyer financing of custom production lines and equipment
  • Seller financing arrangements, such as purchase money security interests and letters of credit
  • Supplier litigation including breach of contract, supplier resourcing, purchase order conflicts, raw materials surcharge recovery and general commercial litigation

        Related Attorneys: Douglas E. Wagner 
                                      Douglas A. Dozeman 
                                      Thomas J. Manganello 
                                      Michael G. Brady

Construction and Real Estate

  • Real estate acquisition, financing, development, leasing and disposition
  • Zoning
  • Condemnation
  • Tax abatement and property tax appeals
  • Litigation
  • Contract drafting and preparation
  • Construction liens, filing and enforcement
  • Dispute resolution including mediation, arbitration and litigation

        Related Attorneys: Melissa N. Collar

Contract Drafting, Review and Negotiation Advice

  • Represent suppliers in drafting, reviewing, interpreting and negotiating automotive supply and commercial contracts
  • Assist both large publicly traded companies and small privately owned companies with lease, purchase, sale and distribution of goods and services
  • Negotiate and document development, supply and manufacturing agreements, software licensing agreements, equipment purchase and/or leasing agreements, nondisclosure agreements and terms and conditions of sale and purchase

        Related Attorneys: William R. Jansen 
                                      John E. Young

Employment litigation

  • Wrongful discharge litigation
  • Discrimination litigation
  • Harassment litigation
  • Covenants not to compete
  • Public accommodation litigation

        Related Attorneys:   Andrea J. Bernard


  • Acquisitions, divestitures and development
  • Air quality issues, including NSR, PSD, NSPS, NESHAPs
  • Brownfield redevelopment
  • Enforcement proceedings and litigation
  • Environmental audits
  • Solid and hazardous waste management
  • Superfund negotiation and litigation
  • Water quality issues

           Related Attorneys:  John V. Byl 
                                          Steven C. Kohl 
                                          Scott D. Hubbard 
                                          Daniel K. DeWitt

Human Resources

  • Union election campaigns and collective bargaining
  • Grievance and arbitration procedures
  • Decertifications
  • Strikes and picket line activity
  • Wage and hour issues
  • Employee benefits
  • Contract drafting and preparation
  • Workplace violence and harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Workers’ compensation

        Related Attorneys: Anthony J. Kolenic, Jr. 
                                      Louis C. Rabaut


  • Critical immigration issues in mergers and acquisitions
  • Visas for executives and managers of multinational companies
  • Visas for high-tech workers
  • Special issues relating to Canadian workers under NAFTA

Intellectual Property

  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Copyrights
  • Litigation of infringement actions, licensing agreements, and unfair competition and antitrust issues

        Related Attorneys: Charles E. Burpee 
                                      William P. Dani 
                                      Douglas A. Dozeman

International Business Transactions

  • Foreign acquisitions
  • Export and import sales
  • Doing business in China
  • Licensing and distributor agreements
  • International tax
  • Legal issues of foreign subsidiaries of domestic corporations

        Related Attorneys: Craig N. Meurlin 
                                      Jeffrey A. Ott 
                                      John E. Young

IT Procurement

  • Quality procurement processes
  • Software audits, including an inventory of all IT contracts
  • Form software contracts
  • Contract processes, including serving as part of the negotiating team

        Related Attorney:  Janet P. Knaus

Mergers and Acquisitions

  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Divestitures
  • Reorganizations
  • Joint ventures

        Related Attorneys: Jeffrey S. Battershall 
                                      James E. Romzek 
                                      Gregory E. Schmidt 
                                      Stephen C. Waterbury

Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations

  • TREAD Act
  • Vehicle Safety Act
  • NHTSA reporting requirements
  • Defect and noncompliance investigations
  • Recall requirements
  • Rulemaking Activities

        Related Attorney:  Christopher J. Predko

Nonroutine Securities Matters

  • Domestic and foreign securities offerings, public and private, including equity and debt
  • Financing and development of financial products
  • No action letters and interpretive advice
  • Proxy contests and solicitations
  • Compliance and regulatory issues involving Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • Securities litigation including class-action defense

        Related attorneys: Hugh H. Makens 
                                      Craig N. Meurlin 
                                      Jeffrey A. Ott

Product Liability Litigation

  • Automotive product liability
  • Class-action defense
  • Breach of warranty and lemon law
  • Automotive supplier issues, including breach of contract, supplier resourcing, purchase order conflicts and bankruptcy
  • Risk management

        Related attorneys: Douglas E. Wagner 
                                      Douglas A. Dozeman 
                                      Thomas J. Manganello 
                                      Kevin G. Dougherty 
                                      Edward J. Bardelli

Real Estate Tax Appeals

  • Appeals concerning assessed value, taxable value and tax exemptions

        Related Attorney: Christian E. Meyer

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