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John J. Sullivan

New York

John J. Sullivan

Over the past 20 years, major automotive companies have turned to John Sullivan to represent them in courts and administrative agencies throughout the U.S. With a focus on franchise litigation and related disputes, John has represented Acura, Ferrari, Ford, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Toyota, and Volvo.

John has also represented companies in specialized motor vehicle areas, such as ambulances and fire engines. He has written amicus briefs on important issues in the industry for its leading trade association, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. In addition to representing automotive clients in litigation, John advises them on the applicable laws of all 50 states to help them fashion national programs and avoid lawsuits by dealers and investigations by regulators.

John attended New York University School of Law, where he served as managing editor of the Law Review and was a member of the Order of the Coif. Following law school, John clerked for the Honorable Thomas M. Reavley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He practiced for many years as a general litigator, handling matters including bankruptcy, class actions, commodities, constitutional law, creditors' rights, criminal law, directors' and officers' liability, employment, intellectual property, legal malpractice, sales, securities, and unfair competition.

Representative Experience

Won summary judgment for Volvo in Ohio federal court dismissing a price discrimination challenge to a manufacturer's facility-based incentive program.

Won summary judgment for Kia in New York federal court dismissing an action alleging wrongful refusal to approve the sale of plaintiffs' dealerships.

Won summary judgment for Honda in New York federal court dismissing claims of wrongful termination and wrongful refusal to approve dealership transfers brought by two dealerships and their affiliates.

Defeated a motion for a preliminary injunction attacking Jaguar Land Rover's Business Builder program on price discrimination grounds.

Won a dealer relocation case for Jaguar tried before the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings.

Obtained pre-trial dismissal of a Jaguar dealer's complaint challenging its termination in the U.S. District Court for the district of Puerto Rico.

Won summary judgment for Hyundai in New York federal court upholding the termination of a dealer for violation of consumer protection statutes.

Obtained a declaratory judgment for Ford in Michigan federal court rejecting wrongful termination claims brought by dealers in Syria and Iraq.

Won a judgment upholding a Honda dealer's termination for poor sales effectiveness in the first "adjudicatory proceeding" tried under the New York franchise act.

Won summary judgment upholding Jaguar Land Rover's right to deny incentive payments to a dealer who did not comply with facility requirements.

Obtained a preliminary injunction against a former Honda dealer for trademark violations.

Won summary judgment dismissing the complaint of a would-be Kia dealer alleging wrongful termination of a franchise agreement.

Won summary judgment in New York federal court dismissing a putative class action against Volvo alleging underpayment for parts used in warranty repairs.

Education and admissions


  • J.D., Order of the Coif, New York University School of Law, 1980
  • B.A., with distinction, Cornell University, 1976

Bar admissions and qualifications

  • New York

Court admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

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