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Chrysler dealer in Bradenton sues automaker, says shutdown breaks Florida law

A Chrysler dealer in Bradenton claims in a lawsuit that it is losing its franchise not because of poor performance but because it refused to buy more cars from Chrysler LLC in the months before the automaker filed for bankruptcy.

As reported Monday by Bloomberg News, Jim Boast Dodge Inc. of Bradenton asked a New York judge in a May 23 filing to block Chrysler's attempt to terminate its franchise agreement with the dealership. The dealer, also known as Bob Boast Dodge (Jim's son), argued the automaker is breaking Florida law and lacks a reasonable business case for the decision.

The Boast family has been a Dodge dealer for almost 70 years, James Keedy, president of Jim Boast Dodge, said in a court filing, Bloomberg reported.

In its effort to stay in business and prepare for its alliance with the Italian automaker Fiat, Chrysler LLC said earlier this month that it would eliminate 789 stores, including Jim Boast Dodge.

Between January and March, Chrysler urged U.S. dealers to buy extra cars to convince the U.S. government of the company's viability and avoid bankruptcy, Boast said in the filing, according to Bloomberg.

On May 14, Chrysler asked the judge to cancel 789 car dealership agreements, including Jim Boast's, who said the dealership bought four vehicles instead of the 60 it was expected to order.

In the court filing, Boast said Chrysler executives threatened dealers who didn't buy enough cars in a Feb. 13 conference call, saying they would "never forget that those dealers did not help the company when it desperately needed help."

"It will be worth finding out," the dealer said in court papers, "how many other dealers who failed to adhere to the debtor's threats have now found themselves on the chopping block."

Bloomberg said Chrysler spokesman Fred Spar would not comment on specific allegations made by dealers because the issues will be dealt with by the judge.

Chrysler dealer in Bradenton sues automaker, says shutdown breaks Florida law 05/25/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 2:17pm]
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