A black former dealer and General Motors have settled a seven-year-old lawsuit in which the ex-dealer accused the company of providing more attractive finance plans to his competitors, who were white.
Neither the attorney for the plaintiff, Charles Bell, former owner of Charles Bell Motor Co. (Cadillac-Oldsmobile-Buick-Pontiac-Chevrolet-GMC), in Tuskegee, Ala., nor GM would disclose the terms of the March 29 agreement.
'The lawsuit was settled on mutually satisfactory terms,' said GM spokeswoman Anne Marie Sylvester.
Said Bell's attorney, Justice Smyth III: 'We are pleased with the resolution.'
The lawsuit was filed by Bell against GM and its financial arm, General Motors Acceptance Corp., in June 1992 in Macon County (Ala.) Circuit Court.
A major dispute in the lawsuit dealt with repossession chargebacks.
According to the lawsuit, Bell's financing plan with GMAC was 100 percent recourse, meaning that when a GMAC-financed vehicle sold by Bell was repossessed, Bell had to buy the vehicle back and lost all of his reserves - the portion of the customer's finance charge the dealer earns for arranging the loan.
Bell later learned that his competitors were on a nonrecourse plan, under which GMAC shared losses. GMAC eventually changed Bell's plan to nonrecourse but refused to refund earlier forfeited amounts, the suit alleged.