DETROIT - Robert Lutz's founding partner in a luxury sports car venture has asked a Michigan court to find that he was the victim of a conspiracy to defraud him.
Sidetracked by a Kentucky court this year, Briggs Cunningham III last month filed suit in Wayne County (Mich.) Circuit Court, claiming he was forced to sell his stock back to the company at a rock-bottom price so he could pay off a loan he had used for startup capital.
Named in the suit are General Motors Vice Chairman Robert Lutz; and Walter Borda and Jack McCormack, principals in the startup Cunningham Motor Co. The company collapsed last year for lack of funds. Lutz started as GM's vice chairman for product development in September 2001.
In a statement, Lutz and his co-defendants said, "Once again, Briggs Cunningham has filed the same meritless claims. The federal court in Kentucky dismissed his first case and expressed serious doubts about any breach of fiduciary duty. This new case suffers from the same deficiencies."
Cunningham claims that Lutz and other company principals hid from him for at least eight months the fact that a $750,000 loan from Credit Suisse Bank to finance the company would not be renewed and would come due on Dec. 31, 2001.
Cunningham claims that he was told about the due date on Nov. 21, 2001, and was left with insufficient time to raise the money. On Dec. 14, 2001, Cunningham says he agreed to sell all of his 750,000 shares back to Cunningham Motor for $1 per share. GM later purchased 400,000 shares at $5 each, the new suit claims.