Halbert B. Rasmussen

Partner

Contact information

Halbert (Bert) Rasmussen has extensive experience representing car, truck, bus, and motorcycle dealers in most legal issues they face. Bert represents clients in franchise disputes (including New Motor Vehicle Board Protests) as well as in business transactions, such as dealer buy-sells. Bert also defends clients when they are accused of violating regulatory requirements, and helps them with policies and procedures to achieve regulatory compliance. Bert’s experience also extends to negotiating dealer agreements with manufacturers, realty owners and lenders as well as mergers and acquisitions, and consumer and business litigation.

A skilled litigator, Bert has delivered wins for his clients for such matters as franchise disputes including terminations instituted by manufacturers, complex multi-party claims arising out of dealership buy-sell agreements, and breach of contract matters, among others. He uses his franchise and distribution law skills to help clients meet their goals, avoid litigation, and maintain harmonious relations with their franchisors.

Client Work

Notable achievements for clients include:

  • A commercial breach of contract jury trial that yielded a unanimous verdict awarding the commercial bus dealership’s full request for relief;
  • A successful “add point” protest and resulting administrative merits hearing for a new motor vehicle dealer stopping the encroachment of another dealership of the same line make within ten miles of the protesting dealer;
  • Two separate protests and resulting administrative merits hearings before the New Motor Vehicle Board prosecuting the dealerships’ protest of termination of their franchise agreements by the franchisor-manufacturer, prevailing on both protests;
  • Trial of a “dealer vs. dealer” dispute involving specific performance and constructive trust equitable claims related to a buy/sell agreement of a new automobile dealership, resulting in a complete victory for the client;
  • Donovan v. RRL Corporation (2001) 26 Cal.4th 261. Successfully argued as amicus curiae that an inadvertent advertising error warranted analysis under California’s unique doctrine of mistake of fact to permit advertising dealer to be treated in an equitable manner; and
  • Chrysler Corp. v. New Motor Vehicle Bd (1993) 12 Cal.App.4th 621. Successfully argued as amicus curiae that the failure of New Motor Vehicle Board to render decision within stated time did not automatically throw open the door to the manufacturer being permitted to proceed with the action (termination, add-point, etc.) challenged in the protest.

Professional Activities

  • Bert is certified as a specialist in franchise and distribution law by the State Bar of California, and has received the AV® Peer-Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell.
  • Bert is also the author of several industry compliance books and publications, including “A Dealer Guide to the FTC Red Flags and Address Discrepancy Rule,” published by the National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA) as part of the NADA Management Series and the Franchise Law Manual published by the California New Car Dealers Association.
  • Bert has written extensively in dealer and professional periodicals, including the “Defender,” published by the NADC.
  • Bert is a frequent speaker at industry events. For example, he presented “Who Wants to Drive? Is the FTC Grabbing for the Wheel of the Vehicle Franchise System?” at the California New Motor Vehicle Board Industry Round Table.

Education: 

  • Juris Doctor (cum laude), Loyola Law School, 1982
  • B.A., Biology, UCLA, 1980

Bar admissions: 

  • State Bar of California, 1983
  • U.S. District Courts, Central, Eastern, Southern and Northern Districts, 1984
  • U.S. Claims Court, 1985
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (1986)