Managing Automotive

News, knowledge, and insights for the automotive industry.

Managing Automotive

Halbert B. Rasmussen

Halbert B. Rasmussen
Los Angeles, CA

Halbert (Bert) Rasmussen is a partner in Arent Fox’s Automotive industry practice group. He has extensive experience representing car, truck, bus, and motorcycle dealers in all of the issues that impact their business. Bert represents clients in developing regulatory compliance programs, operations policies and form, and 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 critical 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 a member of the Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, and American (Antitrust and Business Law Sections and Forum of Franchising) Bar Associations, the State Bar of California, and the National Association of Dealer Counsel (NADC). He has been involved in various civic, community, and charitable organizations.

Publications, Presentations, and Recognitions

Bert 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 and F&I Compliance Manual published by the California New Car Dealers Association.

In addition, Bert is a principal author of the California New Car Dealers Association’s Dealer Management Guide. Bert has written extensively in dealer and professional periodicals, including the “Defender,” published by the NADC.


Blog Posts by Halbert B. Rasmussen

Industry Interests, Litigation & Investigations
Maine decision interpreting dealer franchise law

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court handed down a decision on Tuesday, November 29 where Ford Motor Company will end up owing a dealer in Maine (and any other dealers in Maine with similar claims) millions in damages for unilaterally terminating a dealer incentive program without providing proper notice under state law.

Read the decision here.

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Industry Interests, Litigation & Investigations
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau And Department Of Justice Action Requires Bancorpsouth To Pay $10.6 Million To Address Discriminatory Mortgage Lending Practices

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a joint action against BancorpSouth Bank for discriminatory mortgage lending practices that harmed African Americans and other minorities.  The complaint filed by the CFPB and DOJ alleges that BancorpSouth engaged in numerous discriminatory practices, including illegally redlining in Memphis; denying certain African Americans mortgage loans more often than similarly situated non-Hispanic white applicants; charging African-American customers for certain mortgage loans more than non-Hispanic white borrowers with similar loan qualifications; and implementing an explicitly discriminatory loan denial policy.

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Industry Interests
Tesla driver killed in crash with Autopilot active, NHTSA investigating

A Tesla Model S with the Autopilot system activated was involved in a fatal crash, the first known fatality in a Tesla where Autopilot was active. The company revealed the crash in a blog post posted today and says it informed the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the incident, which is now investigating.

The accident occurred on a divided highway in central Florida when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither the driver — who Tesla notes is ultimately responsible for the vehicle’s actions, even with Autopilot on — nor the car noticed the big rig or the trailer "against a brightly lit sky" and brakes were not applied. In a tweet, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the vehicle's radar didn't help in this case because it "tunes out what looks like an overhead road sign to avoid false braking events."

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Arent Fox LLP, founded in 1942, is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and government intersect. With more than 350 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to clients that range from Fortune 500 corporations to trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.