A Jackson County jury has awarded $19 million to a car dealer who alleged he was harmed by negative publicity about another dealer, who’s also his brother.
Jeremy Franklin filed suit through his businesses, Jeremy Franklin Suzuki operations in Kansas City and Olathe, Kan., against American Suzuki Motor Corp. He argued it was liable for the negative publicity surrounding another Kansas City-area Suzuki dealer’s ad campaign.
That dealership, Chad Franklin Suzuki, has faced an onslaught of lawsuits by consumers and the attorneys general of Kansas and Missouri. The litigation alleges he advertised new cars for low or no monthly payments, with the dealer making up the difference, and that customers would be able to trade in for a new car at least yearly for the same price. But they claim he reneged on the deal and left them owing the balance. The more than 200 cases are being tried individually, and verdicts have ranged from more than $1 million for plaintiffs to a defense win.
Jeremy Franklin argued the negative attention focused on Chad Franklin hurt his business. After a two-week trial, a jury last night ordered American Suzuki to pay Jeremy Franklin’s businesses $4.3 million, plus punitive damages of $15 million.
The jury found the car maker was negligent in approving and helping fund the misleading ad campaign and violated the Missouri Motor Vehicle Franchise Practices Act, explained plaintiff’s attorney Steve White.
After allocating some fault on the actual damages to Jeremy Franklin, and in the Kansas claim, to Chad Franklin, the net award amounts to nearly $18.5 million.
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