Connor Sabatino is senior counsel and a litigation attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP. Connor’s practice focuses on distribution and franchise law, providing a mixture of client counseling and litigation defense. His experience includes state regulations governing the relationship between manufacturers, distributors and dealers of motor vehicles, construction equipment, and agricultural equipment.
Connor works with numerous clients on the periphery of automotive laws such as manufacturers of heavy trucks, truck chassis, other major component parts, motorcycles, ATVs, and semitrailers, as well as “first-stage” and “second-stage” vehicle manufacturers. He similarly works with clients that manufacture construction equipment and agricultural implements that utilize a dealer network.
Connor assists clients with ensuring state licensing and regulatory compliance under applicable industry regulations. As a trusted advisor, Connor helps clients explore potential new business or distribution models to ensure compatibility with state regulations. As a litigator, Connor helps clients avoid — and when necessary, defend against — regulatory enforcement actions as well as dealer lawsuits.
Manufacturers with a national presence face a patchwork of industry-specific state regulations. As manufacturers explore new product and business models in our advancing economy—including consolidation, vertical integration, direct sales or internet sales—it can be difficult to understand how new business ideas may conflict with the patchwork of dealer-friendly state regulations. Even with the best intentions a company can find itself at the receiving end of a state regulatory action or dealer lawsuit. An historic desire by state legislatures to “level the playing field” on behalf of local dealer entities has led to a growth of regulation over the years, almost always tilted in favor of dealerships. Defending against such actions requires both complex commercial litigation experience and a nuanced understanding of the unique risk and exposure profiles that exist when litigating under state dealer laws. Connor has been the lead litigator in bench trials before federal and state courts, and has worked on jury trials in large, complex litigation matters.
Connor is a member of the firm’s Distribution & Franchise, Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution, eDiscovery & Data Management, Labor & Employment, and Privacy, Security & Information Management Practices.
Connor received his law degree (J.D., cum laude, 2009) and his undergraduate degree (B.A., 2003) from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. While studying law, he competed extensively on the University of Wisconsin Law School's Mock Trial team and was the first-ever first year law student to participate in competition on behalf of the law school. As an undergraduate student, Connor was a member of Wisconsin’s varsity rowing team.
Connor is admitted to practice in the State of Wisconsin, and the U.S. District Courts for the Western District of Wisconsin and the Eastern District of Wisconsin.