MIAMI, Sept. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- One of Jamaica's largest motor vehicle distributors has sued Hyundai Motor Company in Florida for deliberately interfering with its long-standing exclusive distributor agreement and improperly steering business to a competing company.
The six-count lawsuit filed by Key Motors Limited accuses Hyundai of fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract, and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, among other charges. Key Motors is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages and enforcement of the existing exclusive distributor agreement.
"Over the course of this long standing and successful relationship, Key Motors promoted Hyundai in Jamaica from relative obscurity to being one of the most successful commercial truck and consumer automobile brands across the island," said Key Motors' attorney, Robert Zarco, a partner with the law firm of Zarco, Einhorn, Salkowski & Brito, P.A. "Then Hyundai executives, with no justification whatsoever, began putting up roadblocks in Key Motors' path. This is not what trusted partners do to one another."
Key Motors was founded in Jamaica by Desmond Panton, a 60-year veteran of the automobile industry. In 1999, Key Motors was appointed the exclusive Jamaican distributor for light- and medium-weight commercial vehicles by Hyundai, which today is the world's fourth largest automobile manufacturer by annual vehicles sold in 193 countries through some 5,000 dealerships. Key Motors was also separately appointed the exclusive Jamaican distributor for passenger vehicles.
At the time, Hyundai had little or no brand recognition in Jamaica. Over the next several years until 2015, Key Motors developed, grew, and enhanced Hyundai's brand through its existing distribution, a fact acknowledged by Hyundai and its executives. In time, Key Motors became the largest seller of commercial vehicles on the island.
According to the lawsuit, Hyundai has intentionally and maliciously sought to negatively impact and conspired to destroy Key Motors' business and reputation and to squeeze it out of business, for its own pecuniary gain. The automaker delayed shipments to Key Motors of commercial vehicles; refused or delayed the issuance of letters of authorization necessary for Key Motors to secure contracts with the Jamaican government; failed to respond to requests for updated prices and specifications; and failed to make available medium- and heavy-duty trucks with right-handed steering.
According to Desmond Panton, CEO of Key Motors, "We did everything we could to try and amicably resolve the matter without going to Court but Hyundai's actions were so underhanded, we felt we were left with no other alternative. What this auto giant is doing to its older dealers is just despicable."
This is not the first time that Hyundai has taken such egregious actions in the region. Indeed, Hyundai has terminated or failed to renew several other senior dealers in such countries as Antigua, Barbados and Colombia. It is the opinion of Key Motors that Hyundai's conduct in the region, which apparently has focused on older dealers and distributors, is indicative of Hyundai's desire and intent to rid its system of long-standing and senior distributors and dealers that were instrumental in growing the brand in its early years, a fact that Key Motors is aggressively investigating.
"Unequivocally, Hyundai was intentionally and maliciously interfering with, and undermining the business and reputation of, Key Motors, in contravention of the 16-year relationship and agreements between the parties, and for the ultimate benefit of itself [and its new distribution partner]," the complaint states.
ABOUT ZARCO EINHORN SALKOWSKI & BRITO, P.A.
Zarco Einhorn Salkowski & Brito, P.A. is an internationally recognized law firm providing high-end legal services in complex commercial legal matters in the areas of franchise, automotive and truck dealership, hospitality and licensing and distributorship law with an emphasis on litigation in the federal and state trial and appellate courts, as well as arbitration and mediation throughout the United States and internationally. For more information, visit www.zarcolaw.com.
Contact: Jennifer Clarin of Boardroom Communications, 954-370-8999 or [email protected].
SOURCE Zarco Einhorn Salkowski & Brito, P.A.