A Chrysler Group dealership in central New Jersey has filed a lawsuit to halt the automaker's efforts to terminate the dealership's franchises for failing to improve to factory standards.
Lucas Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge in Lumberton, N.J., filed the suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Camden, N.J. The suit seeks to forbid Chrysler from terminating the franchises as the automaker said it would do this month.
According to the suit, the dealership had agreed in December 2007 to renovate its interior and exterior by December 2009. Renovations hadn't started before auto sales collapsed in 2008, leaving the dealership financially unable to begin the project.
The suit contends that even though Chrysler's sales and the general economy are better than in 2009, they have not reached their levels of 2007, when the renovations were agreed to. According to the suit, the collapse of the auto industry and the recession "altered the business landscape," and as a result, Lucas "was not required to move forward with the renovations."
Lucas "engaged a contractor and began preparation of renovation plans" in 2012, the suit contends. But Chrysler sent written notice in mid-March that it would terminate its franchise agreements with Lucas 60 days later for failing to renovate and maintain the dealership.
The suit contends that Lucas had achieved 100 percent of its sales goals in 2011 and 2012 before Chrysler's action to terminate its franchises.
A message left for the dealership's management was not returned.
Chrysler spokesman Mike Palese said "it would be inappropriate to comment at this time as this matter is now in litigation."
Gary Brown, chairman of the Chrysler National Dealer Council, said he was unfamiliar with the suit and could not comment.