NASHVILLE -- Former California Nissan dealer Michael Kahn has asked a California Court of Appeal to overturn last year's $40 million jury verdict against him in his lawsuit against Nissan North America and Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. and to give him a new judge and trial.
Kahn had sought more than $200 million in damages from Nissan after it canceled his financing for vehicle floorplanning and real estate in the pit of the 2008-09 national credit crisis.
Speaking to Automotive News with his attorney, Kahn said he believes the Los Angeles Superior Court judge on the case erred by limiting the trial to a question of whether or not he was out of trust, or delinquent in paying his loans to the automaker.
The real point of the lawsuit, Kahn said, was whether Nissan misled him. But that issue was eliminated from the jury's consideration last year.
"Did I breach the contract? Absolutely," Kahn said. "If you're out of trust, you breached the contract. But that wasn't the whole story -- yet it was the only issue the jury was allowed to rule on."
The jury ordered Kahn to pay Nissan $40 million.
Commenting on Kahn's request for a new trial, Nissan North America chief spokesman David Reuter wrote in an e-mail: "The facts in Kahn v. Nissan were very clear and the jury correctly rejected all of Mr. Kahn's claims and returned a significant judgment in favor of Nissan. We are confident that verdict will stand, and are equally confident that we would win any appeal."
Once one of Nissan's highest flying dealers, Kahn's Superior Automotive Group operated five Nissan stores in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, plus three other stores, and reported 2007 revenues of $507 million.
He lost everything when Nissan found him to be out of trust and canceled his financing in February 2009.
Nissan also was financing a Toyota dealership that Kahn owned at the time.
Kahn filed suit a year later, claiming that Nissan officials had assured him they would work with him to resolve his debt problems.
Kahn says he had become current in his loans in part by selling off one of his dealerships as well as his company plane.
He argues that had Nissan made clear its intention to cancel his financing, he still had the time and resources in 2008 to raise money to save his dealerships.