Tesla scored a big win in Missouri on Tuesday after the Missouri Court of Appeals ordered the dismissal of a long-standing lawsuit that prevented the electric car maker from selling its cars directly to consumers.
The Missouri Auto Dealers Association (MADA), along with two other plaintiffs, accused Tesla in 2015 of unlawfully obtaining a dealers license to sell its cars within the state. Tesla would lose its license the following year after Cole County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Green ruled that Tesla was not an independent franchisee and, thus, prohibited from renewing its dealer license.
Tesla closed its showroom store in Kansas City and University City following the ruling, only to open it again after a court ruled that the California electric car maker could operate while an appeal was still pending.
However, the Missouri Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel has overturned a lower court decision that prevented Tesla from renewing its in-state dealer license.
“The decision today is a victory for Missouri consumers who want the choice to learn about and purchase their Tesla in their home state,” said a Tesla spokesperson after Tuesday’s court ruling. “We have been serving customers in Missouri for almost five years and have contributed to the state economy and jobs for Missourians — something that will now continue.”
MADA quickly responded after the ruling, calling the court’s decision disappointing and something that does not hold the government accountable.
“We believe that today’s Appeals Court decision does not hold the government accountable, but rather enables a system where the Department of Revenue can arbitrarily issue a license to anybody for any reason, without an appropriate and necessary mechanism for Missouri taxpayers to challenge those decisions,” said MADA’s Executive Director Doug Smith.
“We feel very strong about the merits of our argument, and we’re a little disappointed in the final decision,” Smith added. “It does have an impact on our industry.”
The Missouri Auto Dealers Association intends to first weigh available options, before escalating the case to the Missouri Supreme Court.