Nowata Co. Judge Says Ford And Closed Dealership Were Negligent
By Dan Bewley and Scott Thompson, The News On 6
NOWATA, OK -- A Nowata County judge says the Ford Motor Company and two businessmen are to blame for cheating customers and should pay up.
Judge Carl Gibson sided with almost a dozen people who had sued Nowata Ford and the automaker for fraud.
In August 2008 at Nowata Ford, the Ford lot was empty and the dealership closed after dozens of customers complained that the dealership took trade-ins but never paid off the notes of those trade-ins, leaving some customers with two car payments.
Kim Teague is one of 11 people who filed a lawsuit.
"It just made me feel like I had been just ripped off, and they knew they were going to do that to begin with," said Owasso resident Kim Teague.
The dealership was owned by Edward Taylor of Broken Arrow. Thomas Plummer was its general manager. About 18 months ago, he told The News On 6 he didn't know about the controversy.
"And, unfortunately, you're only as good as your employees, and we don't know what was sold that we never saw so that's what we're trying to find out right now," Thomas Plummer, the former general manager, said in August of 2008.
Plummer has since disappeared, and Taylor filed bankruptcy.
In its 16 page ruling the court put blame at both Ford Motor Company as well as Plummer and Taylor. In its judgment, the court says Ford Motor Company was negligent and that it should have never let the dealership open in the first place.
About Ford Motor Company:
"Ford threw its considerable weight and influence in support of the application" to get a license to sell vehicles.
About Plummer and Taylor:
The "...conduct of the defendants...has been fraudulent and oppressive," also saying they "have been guilty of reckless disregard for the rights of others."
Teague stills drives her Ford Taurus but says the episode has left her shaken and frustrated.
"Just betrayed and scammed, and I think they knew what they were doing," said Kim Teague, an Owasso resident who filed a lawsuit against the dealership. "I think they knew that a lot of people weren't going to get what they thought they were going to get."
The judge ruled that Plummer and Taylor should pay seven of the customers $100,000 each. He also ordered the Ford Motor Company to pay $110,000 total.
Ford calls the ruling incorrect and plans to appeal to see if they can get the fines tossed out.