Industry services



The automotive industry has witnessed dramatic changes over the past several years. Consumer demand for size, horsepower and performance has been replaced with new priorities – fuel economy, design efficiency, connected car technologies, and driver conveniences. Faced with increasing government regulations, balancing investments in green technologies in hybrid and electric vehicles, sustaining growth in developing markets, and maintaining profitability, the automobile industry is being forced to adapt and deliver.

For more than two decades, we have been actively engaged in the issues you face as part of the automotive industry. Our strategic position in the Midwest gives us unparalleled proximity to suppliers and manufacturers that are the lifeline of your business. We speak your language and understand the industry-specific needs of OEMs, suppliers, dealers, creditors, employees, vendors, advisors, media, and government officials.

As a business advisory and advocacy law firm, the scope of services we provide to automotive industry clients is vast - from helping clients negotiate contracts and disputes without litigation, litigating disputes when it’s the best option, registering trademarks and manufacturing processes, protecting business interests and assets, managing workforce issues and high level labor relations, creating compensation and benefits plans for management and employees, and addressing tax and finance issues. We bring together the talents and passions of a unique group of attorneys who can guide you down difficult paths and help you achieve your short- and long-term business goals, whatever they may be.

Day-to-day support to automotive suppliers

Our automotive team works with a multitude of suppliers on a daily basis, providing consulting and legal support for practically every aspect of the automotive supply chain. We are often brought into difficult situations before there is a crisis and assist our clients in successfully navigating poten¬tially explosive situations with a careful, reasoned, and proven approach.
Our team also regularly provides behind-the-scenes legal support to purchasing and sales departments for contractual negotiations, providing assistance to best position clients both legally and commercially.

Sometimes contracts that seemed favorable at the time they were entered become less favorable as time goes on – wheth¬er because of changing demand combined with increased or decreased volumes, commodity pricing issues, unreasonable customer or supplier demands, or a multitude of other issues. Whatever the reason, our team has the experience needed to provide insight and solutions to your unique situation. In these cases, identifying your commercial goals and putting in place a strategy to achieve those goals is always of the upmost importance.
We also provide pre-litigation advice and support for almost every issue experienced by manufacturers in the automotive and other industries, including:
  • Potential supply interruptions 
  • The need to resource supply from a recalcitrant supplier 
  • Recall exposure 
  • Customer and government inquiries regarding supplied parts and assemblies 
  • Capacity limitations 
  • Tooling and equipment issues

Automotive litigation

Unfortunately not all issues can be resolved without litigation. When litigation is inevitable and/or necessary, our team has decades of experience in the automotive and manufacturing industries.

Our deep understanding of these industries, specifically mat­ters involving manufacturing and supply chain clients, helps us to understand and effectively solve your litigation issues. We have experience assisting automotive clients with a wide range of litigation throughout the U.S. From commercial law to employment litigation to the nuances associated with the multitude of contract forms in the automotive industry, we work closely with you to solve disputes. And while providing legal advice is our primary function, we also recognize there are difficult business realities and relationships involved in your business.

We are prepared to act quickly and effectively when your production or supply chain is a risk. We have been involved in litigating hundreds of disputes, distributor agreements and accommodation agreements.

Our attorneys also handle disputes related to the quality of goods and recall litigation, tooling disputes and virtually every other aspect of litigation in the manufacturing sector. The following is a very small representative summary of matters handled by our attorneys. Overall, our team has been involved in hundreds of similar cases involving these common industry issues.

We also have considerable experience working on automotive restructuring issues

Representative Matters

  • Successfully represented a brake manufacturer in a multi-million dollar supply dispute related to defendant suppliers’ effort to terminate contract due to higher commodity pricing for friction materials. 
  • Obtained an injunction requiring defendant supplier to continue to ship fasteners at agreed pricing despite dramatic increase in steel prices. 
  • Successfully enforced contractual terms requiring defendant supplier to timely ship automotive interior components to avoid shutdown of an OEM assembly operations. 
  • Successfully defeated a claim for injunctive relief brought against Tier II plastics supplier client by demonstrating that purchase order was not a requirements contract and, therefore, client had no further supply obligations. 
  • Defended multi-million dollar warranty recall claim against a supplier by an OEM related to recalled hub and wheel bearings. 
  • Successfully defended defective product claim seeking recall costs related to drive-by-wire sensors utilized on heavy trucks. 
  • Successfully defended a claim for breach of contract relating to MRO indirect materials from Suppliers, including performance metric issues and shipping and receiving issues into North American plants. 
  • Successfully pursued claims for breach of NDA and disclosure of confidential and propriety information to competitors relating to a new design which removed weight from a component part.

Key Contacts


John E. Benko
Lisa S. Lauer
David W. Schelberg