Tesla gets federal help in Louisiana direct sales appeal

Tesla is currently in the midst of an appeal battle in Louisiana over the state’s direct-to-consumer automobile sales ban, and they have just gotten some help from the federal government.

The Department of Justice filed a friend of the court brief last week arguing that the trial court judge misinterpreted antitrust law in her argument to dismiss the suit, Reuters reports.

As part of her decision to dismiss the lawsuit, US District Judge Sarah Vance noted that Tesla was required to show that members of the motor vehicle commission in Louisiana had intent to curb market competition.

However, per the brief from the Justice Department, civil antitrust law does not require an intent to curb market competition. In fact, the brief notes that if this were a requirement of the law, it would “improperly” restrict civil antitrust law.

Although the Department of Justice seems to support Tesla on this appeal, it does not. In the brief, the Department noted that it was not supporting either side in the civil case and did not have a view on the outcome of the appeal. Instead, the Department wants to ensure that there is no precedent-setting around antitrust cases moving forward due to the perceived error by Judge Sarah Vance.

It is unclear if this perceived error would be enough to force an appeal of the suit for Tesla, which the court dismissed in August 2023.

The appeal is with the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals based out of New Orleans, and there is no set argument date yet.

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