LOS ANGELES -- A Mitsubishi dealer in California has sued the company's financially struggling U.S. operations.
Thomas Cogliano, owner of Ukiah Mitsubishi in Ukiah, Calif., claims among other things that Mitsubishi Motors America Inc. duped him into building a store in 2002 by overstating the area's market potential.
He alleges that once the store opened, Mitsubishi dumped unordered vehicles at his dealership.
He also says that because of problems with Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America, it was difficult to get financing for prospective customers.
Mitsubishi denies the charges. In a statement, the company says: "Mitsubishi has reviewed the allegations by Ukiah in its complaint and finds them to be both factually and legally groundless.
"We believe the lawsuit was motivated, in large part, by the dealer's desire to avoid collection and other legal proceedings by Mitsubishi for monies owed. We are confident the dealer will not succeed in that effort, and we intend to defend the case vigorously."
The suit was filed Sept. 16 in the Superior Court of California in Mendocino County by Richard Sox a partner with Myers & Fuller in Tallahassee, Fla., a law firm that specializes in dealer issues.
Sox says his firm has received several complaints from Mitsubishi dealers. He says the complaints arose from business dealings before Finbarr O'Neill became CEO of Mitsubishi Motors America in September 2003.
"All the dealers shared with us the same stories of feeling that Mitsubishi personnel had misinformed them as to the potential success of a Mitsubishi franchise, had destroyed the viability of Mitsubishi Credit and had dumped cars on them that were not ordered," Sox says.
Mitsubishi's sales have plunged precipitously in the past several months. They fell 42.3 percent in September to 9,282 and are down 35.2 percent for the year to 132,997.
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