FCA calls suing dealers ‘disgruntled’


FCA’s U.S. office is firing back at two dealers that are suing the automaker for racketeering saying the plaintiffs have consistently underperformed since at least 2012 and their claims are baseless.

The statement, issued a day after court papers were filed in Illinois federal court, says the legal action is nothing more than the product of two disgruntled dealers that have failed to meet obligations set out in their dealer agreements.

News first broke earlier this week that two stores from the Ed Napleton Automotive Group had filed suit against FCA U.S. LLC and FCA Realty LLC. It is alleged that FCA offered financial payments to dealerships to report falsified monthly vehicle sales totals.

Court documents indicate one dealer says he was offered US$20,000 to report the sale of 40 vehicles. The suit says that payment was to be reported as a “co-op advertising credit to the dealer’s account” to ensure it didn’t raise any red flags.

FCA is one of a handful of automakers both in the U.S. and Canada that uses stair-step incentive programs to reward dealers for hitting predetermined monthly volume targets.

“Notwithstanding numerous requests to provide evidence of this alleged activity, the plaintiffs have refused to substantiate their claims,” FCA said in response to the claims.

“FCA U.S. carried out an investigation of the facts, and has determined that these allegations are baseless and plaintiffs were notified of this fact before they filed suit. This lawsuit is nothing more than the product of two disgruntled dealers who have failed to perform their obligations under the dealer agreements they signed with FCA U.S.”

The automaker says the stores - Napleton Arlington Heights Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and and Napleton’s North Palm Auto Park Inc. - have consistently failed to perform since at least 2012, and have also used the threats of litigation over the last several months in a wrongful attempt to compel FCA US to reserve special treatment for them, including the allocation of additional open points in the US FCA network.

“FCA US will continue to resist these pressures, safeguarding the relationship of trust and openness which governs its relationship with its dealers. FCA finds it unfortunate and disappointing that reputable media would be willing to be used in questionable litigation practices without a full understanding of the facts.”

Sources online indicate the Napleton family operates more than 50 rooftops throughout in Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania and Missouri.