American Suzuki Motor Corp. has settled a lawsuit filed three years ago by auto dealer Jeremy Franklin who alleged his reputation had been damaged by a misleading advertising campaign.
By STEVE ROSEN
The Kansas City Star
The auto company agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to settle the suit, Franklin said. At the time of the problems, Franklin owned Jeremy Franklin Suzuki.
Franklin said in a statement that the settlement is compensation “for the damage our business suffered when Suzuki supported misleading vehicle advertising in Kansas City.”
The auto dealer, who now operates the Jeremy Franklin Pre-Owned Superstore near Interstate 435 and 87th Street, sued Suzuki in 2010 regarding an ad campaign for a competing Suzuki dealership owned by Franklin’s brother Chad Franklin. According to the suit, attorneys general in Missouri and Kansas brought action against Chad Franklin and declared that the ads defrauded customers.
The ads offered new Suzukis for payments of up to $49 per month. But the contract signed by buyers called for them to reapply for the low payments after 10 months, according to court records. The payments would then skyrocket up to $700 a month.
Jeremy Franklin said the lawsuits and customer complaints against the other dealership created “widespread negative publicity and...consumer confusion that severely damaged” his business. A Jackson County Circuit Court jury in 2011 ordered American Suzuki to pay more than $18 million to Jeremy Franklin Suzuki.
However, the judge in the case ordered a new trial on the amount of the damages, which led to appeals from both sides and further delays in settling the case.
In February, however, American Suzuki agreed to a final settlement. The automaker recently filed by bankruptcy court reorganization and is in the process of abandoning the U.S. motor vehicle market.
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