A federal judge in Maryland has dismissed a racketeering claim in a lawsuit against the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers but remanded other employment-related claims to a state court.
In a complaint filed in January in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, former NAMAD employee Marjorie Weekes alleged that the dealer association engaged in racketeering activities and violated its nonprofit status by using association funds for private purposes. She claimed that she was fired when she tried to bring the improprieties to the attention of NAMAD's board.
The lawsuit was moved to the U.S. District Court for Maryland because of the racketeering charge.
On April 12, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte ruled that the racketeering allegation did not meet legal requirements under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act. But he allowed Weekes' other claims against NAMAD to stand and remanded the suit to the lower court.
Weekes' other charges include unfair discharge, defamation and infliction of emotional distress. She also alleges NAMAD owes her back wages.
NAMAD has denied the allegations and has called Weekes a disgruntled former employee who was terminated for cause. NAMAD Chairman Steve Harrell said the group is grateful that the judge dismissed the RICO claims. "We are confident that the Maryland state court will do likewise with her remaining claims," he said.
Plaintiff's lawyer Marc Jordan of Columbia, Md., said he is disappointed that the RICO charges were dismissed but not surprised. "It's a technical and complicated statute," he said.
Jordan said Weekes will pursue her case in the lower court. She is seeking more than $90,000 in damages plus attorney fees and other costs.