ATLANTA (April 9, 2001) — Michelin Americas Small Tires (MAST) announced it has resolved its price discrimination legal dispute with DeKalb Tire Co. Inc. by acquiring the dealership.
No financial terms of the agreement were released by either side.
Dekalb Tire, owned by Ray Bennett, operates four retail stores in the suburbs of Atlanta.
In August 1997, Mr. Bennett filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Michelin claiming that retailing giants such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its Sam's Club unit, Costco Wholesale Inc., Kmart Corp., and Sears, Roebuck and Co. and its National Tire & Battery subsidiary received preferential pricing from the tire maker—to the detriment of small independent dealerships such as DeKalb Tire. The litigation claimed Michelin violated the federal Robinson-Patman Act.
After Michelin's motion for summary judgment was denied, the case was scheduled to go to trial April 23 before a six-person jury in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division. But both sides have been meeting to explore a possible settlement.
A MAST press release said "the terms of the agreement are confidential and resolve the pending dispute between the parties. DeKalb Tire will continue to supply MAST brand passenger and light truck tire products to MAST tire customers in Atlanta."
"It's a situation where we both decided that this was the best way to resolve the dispute," a Michelin spokeswoman told Tire Business. "We've agreed not to talk about it."
Mr. Bennett could not be reached for comment.
He had hoped to recover more than $10 million in damages if victorious in court. But since the suit was covered by federal antitrust rules, he could have been awarded three times that amount plus attorneys' fees and court costs.