Section 8-21C-11

Civil action for damages.

(a) A dealer, manufacturer, distributor, or warrantor injured by another party's violation of this chapter may bring a civil action in circuit court to recover actual damages. The court shall award attorney's fees and costs to the prevailing party in such an action. Venue for any civil action authorized by this section shall be exclusively in the county in which the dealer's business is located. In an action involving more than one dealer, venue may be in any county in which any dealer that is party to the action is located.

(b)(1) Prior to bringing suit under this section, the party bringing suit for an alleged violation shall serve a written demand for mediation upon the offending party.

a. The demand for mediation shall be served upon the other party via certified mail at the address stated within the manufacturer and dealer agreement between the parties.

b. The demand for mediation shall contain a brief statement of the dispute and the relief sought by the party filing the demand.

(2) Within 20 days after the date a demand for mediation is served, the parties shall mutually select an independent certified mediator and meet with that mediator for the purpose of attempting to resolve the dispute. The meeting place shall be in this state in a location selected by the mediator. The mediator may extend the date of the meeting for good cause shown by either party or upon stipulation of both parties.

(3) The service of a demand for mediation under this section shall toll the time for the filing of any complaint, petition, protest, or other action under this chapter until representatives of both parties have met with a mutually selected mediator for the purpose of attempting to resolve the dispute. If a complaint, petition, protest, or other action is filed before that meeting, the court shall enter an order suspending the proceeding or action until the mediation meeting has occurred and may, upon written stipulation of all parties to the proceeding or action that they wish to continue to mediate under this section, enter an order suspending the proceeding or action for as long a period as the court considers appropriate.

(4) The parties to the mediation shall bear their own costs for attorney's fees and divide equally the cost of the mediator.

(c) In addition to the remedies provided in this section and notwithstanding the existence of any additional remedy at law, a dealer, manufacturer, distributor, or warrantor, is authorized to make application to a circuit court, upon a hearing and for cause shown, for the grant of a temporary or permanent injunction, or both, restraining any person from acting as a dealer without being properly licensed, from violating or continuing to violate any of the provisions of this chapter, or from failing or refusing to comply with the requirements of this chapter. The injunction shall be issued without bond. A single act in violation of the provisions of this chapter shall be sufficient to authorize the issuance of an injunction.

(Act 2011-636, p. 1529, §11.)