Fenton Motor Group, a dealership company that just a few years ago had more than 20 stores in five states, now faces at least 11 lawsuits as it fades from existence.
Owner Brad Fenton, a prominent, longtime Nissan dealer who as recently as 2014 was head of the Japanese brand's dealer advisory board, says he is selling off his stores — which included one of the largest Nissan dealerships in the country — as he retires.
But that hasn't been easy.
His company and dealerships are facing a string of lawsuits across several Southern states filed by lenders such as Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp., Capital One, a credit union and an Oklahoma bank over allegations that range from selling millions of dollars' worth of vehicles but not repaying floorplan loans to breaking contracts and not placing lenders as lien holders on titles. In Texas, Fenton Motor Group also must address dozens of consumer complaints over title missteps.
Fenton told Automotive News at the end of March that he still owned five or six dealerships, though all are under contract to be sold. He declined to identify which stores he still owns but said they included dealerships in Oklahoma and Texas. Nissan Group confirmed Fenton — who hosted then-Nissan North America Chairman Jose Munoz for a store grand opening in 2016 and once had nine outlets selling the brand — had just one Nissan store at the end of last month.
While Fenton described his exit from auto retailing as a retirement, court documents reveal that he proposed selling several Nissan dealerships as part of a plan to resolve a loan default.
Nissan's credit arm, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp., confirmed to Automotive News in late March that it has four lawsuits pending against Fenton-owned dealerships in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. A Nissan Group spokeswoman declined to comment on the pending litigation.