John Darvish, owner of one of the Washington, D.C., area's largest dealership chains, faces a $2.6 million judgment for allegedly badmouthing a former employee to keep him from owning a dealership.
Darvish and his lawyer did not respond to repeated phone calls from Automotive News.
Shahriar Gohari, a former employee of Darcars Toyota in Silver Spring, Md., sued Darvish in February 1997, charging that Darvish conspired to keep him from buying an Arlington, Va., Toyota dealership.
Gohari claimed his effort to purchase Kline Imports collapsed because Darvish, who owns Darcars, told Toyota representatives that Gohari stole money from his stores and was incompetent.
According to the complaint, Gohari worked for Darvish for nine years and held various positions, including senior vice president, before quitting voluntarily in August 1996.
Last month, a jury in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Md., sided with Gohari and ordered Darvish to pay $2,620,000 in compensatory damages.
'There was written documentation from the factory file that disparaging things had been said about Mr. Gohari,' says Charles Tobin, Gohari's Washington lawyer. 'There was enough of this evidence that the jury was satisfied that those things had been said and that they were critical in the denial of Mr. Gohari's application to be a franchisee. That's the bottom line.'