By Joseph Lichterman
DETROIT, July 15 (Reuters) - A federal jury awarded $2 million in damages to automotive entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin’s firm V Cars LLC after a former employee undercut a deal with China’s Chery Automobile Co Ltd to bring luxury vehicles to the United States.
The jury, in Detroit, said last week that KCA Engineering LLC, which was founded by former V Cars executive Dennis Gore while he was still employed by V Cars, committed fraud and other offenses.
Gore’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment.
Bricklin, who is best known for importing the low-cost Yugo vehicle to the United States in the 1980s, said Gore used proprietary information to help Chery launch a joint venture, Qoros Automobile Co, with investment firm Israel Corp.
Chery and V Cars, then known as Visionary Vehicles, entered into a joint venture in December 2004. The companies hoped to sell 150,000 Chinese-made vehicles in the United States by 2007, but the relationship soured, and Israel Corp and Chery founded Qoros that year.
“This has been a long time coming,” Bricklin said in an interview. “We found out what was really going on behind our back at the end of ‘06 and we have been trying to get justice ever since.”
Bricklin has filed a number of suits around the globe to recoup losses and collect damages from the failed deal. The largest lawsuit, filed in federal court in Detroit in 2008 against Chery and other defendants, charges racketeering and seeks $26 million in initial investment by Visionary and at least $1.1 billion to account for the loss of projected earnings.
Litigation is ongoing in the racketeering case, V Cars LLC v. Chery Automobile Co et al., U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, No. 08-cv-13113
The lawsuit brought against Dennis Gore is V Cars LLC v. KCA Engineering LLC, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, No. 2:11-cv-12805