New affidavit in GM lawsuit as plaintiff tally hits 19


A new affidavit representing 18 dealerships suing General Motors Canada says the automaker did not adequately justify its decision to close a number of stores in its Canadian network.

The court filing, recently obtained by Canadian AutoWorld, says GM apparently used arbitrary measures to chose which dealers to delete, the group alleges.

Filed by Cynthia Robinson of Robinson Pontiac Buick Ltd. in Guelph, the document is an emotional testament on the history of the franchise and its demise last May.

“Our franchisor, whose brands we had devoted our lives to building, was now committed to our extinction,” the affidavit said.

Robinson is one of the latest dealerships to join a lawsuit launched by 12 deleted GM dealers across Ontario and PEI. In the first to two recent lawsuits against the company, this suit alleges the 19 plaintiffs’ contracts state they are permitted to renew their contracts and continue to sell GM vehicles until at lease 2015.

They claim GM broke a contract that promised renewed franchise agreements upon fulfillment of sales and image obligations.

Court filings indicate none of the plaintiffs failed to meet the obligations.

Robinson said her father opened the dealership in 1965 and it had been profitable in every year of its existence, including 2009. She says that profitability was not enough to protect the store from GM’s restructuring plans in May.

The plaintiffs claim also claim they were not given adequate time to assess the wind-down agreement and Robinson says requests to GM for more information were met “with a stone wall of silence.'”

GM Canada has yet to respond to any of the claims, saying it will not comment on matters before the court. The Canadian Press is reporting GM Canada spokesman Tony LaRocca said the company has filed a motion to have the case heard by the National Automobile Dealer Arbitration Program, or NADAP, rather than the courts.

But the plaintiffs, like Bob Slessor of Slessor Pontiac in Grimsby, Ont., say NADAP does not allow for group arbitration forcing the matter into the public courts.

- with files from The Canadian Press