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A Better Partnership
April 12, 2015

COA: A farm equipment dealer must terminate agreement with supplier by certified mail to obtain relief under the Farm and Utility Equipment Act

In Weingartz Supply Co. v. Salsco Inc., No. 317758, the Court of Appeals held that, in order to seek relief under the Farm and Utility Equipment Act (FUEA), the method by which a dealer of farm utility equipment must terminate an agreement with a supplier is by sending notice via certified mail. Therefore, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision to grant defendant’s motion for summary disposition because plaintiff dealer failed to properly send notice via certified mail as required under the statute.
 
Weingartz Supply Company sells grounds maintenance equipment and in 2006 contracted with manufacturer, Salsco, Inc., for receipt of a number of lawn rollers used to smooth golf courses. The parties carried on a contractual relationship for the next five years until the golf-products industry declined. In 2011, Weingartz stopped selling golf-related equipment and called Salsco to inform it that Weingartz would no longer need lawn rollers from Salsco. Weingartz also sent Salsco an e-mail and letter of the inventory it sought to return to Salsco, which Salsco refused to accept. Weingartz sued Salsco for violating the FUEA, MCL 445.1451 et seq.
 
Under the FUEA, a dealer of farm utility equipment is entitled to have its inventory repurchased by its supplier. MCL 445.1453. Additionally, for a supplier to be required to repurchase inventory under the Act, the business agreement between the dealer and the supplier must be terminated. MCL 445.1454. Weingartz argued that the letter to Salsco terminated the parties’ relationship and successfully invoked its rights under the statute. Salsco argued that Weingartz admittedly never sent Salsco any documents terminating their agreement via certified mail, which was contrary to the express terms of the statute.
 
The Court of Appeals held that Weingartz was required to send Salsco notice of termination by certified mail in order to seek relief under the FUEA. The court reasoned that the plain language of the Act requires a dealer to terminate an agreement with a supplier in a single way: notice sent by certified mail. The facts are undisputed that the parties had a contract to purchase equipment and Weingartz terminated the contract via phone and email, and never sent any documents to Salsco via certified mail. Therefore, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order granting Salsco’s motion for summary disposition because Weingartz failed to comply with the plain language of the statute and thus was not entitled to any of the rights and remedies contained therein.  

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