ATLANTA, GA (June 5) – U.S. automobile dealers from across the country filed a lawsuit yesterday accusing the Indian truck manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra, Ltd. and its U.S. counterpart of fraud, misrepresentation, and conspiracy. The lawsuit alleges that Mahindra duped hundreds of U.S. auto dealers and walked away with more than $60 million in cash and trade secrets. Then Mahindra simply reneged on its promises, according to attorney Michael Diaz, the managing partner of Miami-based Diaz Reus & Targ, who leads the plaintiffs' legal team of Gary Davidson, Brant Hadaway, Carlos Gonzalez and Sumeet Chugani.
"Mahindra told the dealers that its light trucks and SUVs were ready for delivery to the U.S. market," said Diaz. "However, Mahindra intentionally delayed certification of its vehicles after obtaining the dealership fees and trade secrets, and began pursuing other partners in the U.S. and elsewhere in clear violation of their commitments."
The mass tort lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta (#KH199170-3) on June 4, 2012 against Mahindra & Mahindra, Ltd, and Mahindra USA, Inc. by dealerships in New Hampshire, Florida, California, New Jersey, and Washington. Dealers across the country paid initial dealership fees, undertook marketing on Mahindra’s behalf, built Mahindra showrooms, display platforms and showcases, and hired additional personnel, all at Mahindra’s urging, according to the lawsuit.
"Through their false representations, the defendants lured the U.S. dealers into making investments and promoting Mahindra’s brand name," said Diaz. "Mahindra is going to learn that trying to outsmart the dealers was a serious mistake, as we will aggressively seek justice for our clients."
According to the lawsuit, Mahindra began laying the groundwork to enter the U.S. market and build a nationwide dealer network in 2004. In a high-profile move to court the U.S. dealers, Arun Jaura, a senior Mahindra executive, attended an Atlanta automotive show in 2007 where he repeatedly proclaimed, “I love America!”
At that show, which was attended by about 400 U.S. dealers, Mahindra executives presented promotional videos that showcased its vehicles’ durability, purportedly showing them being driven on different terrains. Jaura also provided a set time-line for introducing Mahindra’s four-door truck to the U.S. market at the end of 2008, and Mahindra’s two-door truck and SUV in the third quarter of 2009.
Mahindra’s pitch was highly successful. Ultimately, it obtained $9.5 million in fees from the dealers, according to the lawsuit. Through a barrage of press releases, sales pitches, advertisements, and news articles orchestrated by Mahindra, Jaura's comments were subsequently used to entice more U.S. dealers to agree to carry Mahindra's vehicles.
Over the next two years, Mahindra continued to reassure the U.S. dealers that its certification process was on target, while in fact it was delaying submitting its documentation to regulators as a pretext for terminating its agreements, said Diaz.
"Mahindra repeatedly failed to live up to its obligations,” Diaz explained. "Now, after spending millions of dollars on behalf of Mahindra, the U.S. dealers have nothing to show for their time and energy other than a series of false promises."
About Diaz Reus
Diaz Reus represents dealmakers around the world with a focus on emerging markets. With experienced lawyers in the U. S., Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, the firm is uniquely suited to handle a wide range of complex commercial, business, and financial transactions across international borders. Diaz Reus lawyers have experience in government relations, trade, compliance, customs, tax, and immigration matters, as well as internal and government investigations, litigation, and arbitration. Diaz Reus operates offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida; Caracas, Venezuela; Shanghai, China; Dubai, U.A.E.; Iraq; Frankfurt, Germany; Bogota, Colombia; Panama, Republic of Panama; Mexico City, Mexico; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; and an affiliate office in Sao Paulo, Brazil. For more information, visit www.diazreus.com