Hopkins Cars of Marianna is suing General Motors, manager Eddie Hopkins confirmed Monday afternoon, but not for $56 million, as a local television station reported during the weekend. The federal lawsuit was filed in Panama City last week, Hopkins said, “but the monetary amount is considerably less than $56 million.”
Hopkins explained that he is prevented from commenting on the ongoing civil procedure, but did release a statement to the TIMES. It is being reprinted with this article. Although the amount was incorrect, Hopkins has not specified any other problems with the WJHG TV-Panama City report--other points including:
--GM “reneged” on the granting of a Buick franchise for Hopkins in 2009. Hopkins made extensive financial investments in preparation for the expected deliveries.
--GM cut the number of vehicles to be delivered to Hopkins, restricted financing options and launched a “concerted effort to force Hopkins out as a GM dealer,” WJHG reported. The WJHG writer, Rex Ogburn, did not talk with Hopkins or any attorneys, only quoting from the plaintiff’s attorneys who wrote the text of the lawsuit.
--The report continued: “Lawyers (allege) that other GM dealerships escaped the treatment, even though they were in worse financial shape.” Ogburn at the end of his report multiplied $4 million by each of the 14 counts in the lawsuit to reach $56 million, as he mistakenly thought the language instructed.
For decades, Hopkins in Marianna was synonymous with Pontiac and Oldsmobile, but GM stopped making Olds in about 2001 and after the nationwide financial crisis of 2008, stopped making the Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Hummer brands as well. Beginning on May 15, 2009, GM notified 1,100 of its dealerships that it would terminate their contracts and eventually 40 percent of its retail network. Despite early reports in 2009 that Hopkins survived “the cut,” in fact it did not. The GM bankruptcy and a subsequent bailout by the federal government, leading some critics to call it “Government Motors,” did not do anything for dealerships like Hopkins. Many businesses were shut down entirely, but Hopkins decided to keep its service department open and sell quality used cars.
The statement Eddie Hopkins released to the TIMES is reprinted here in its entirety:
“Many are aware that we were a franchised General Motors dealer from 1970 until 2010. We had a good business with many loyal customers and employees. The auto industry went through severe turmoil starting in 2008 and we were aware that our Pontiac franchise was going to be cancelled nationally. During this time, our communications with GM concerned a conversation that we could remain as a viable business. GM offered a couple of ways that would happen. We made preparations for what was promised us after GM’s bankruptcy was being concluded. In the end, GM did none of what they told us they were going to do. While using the legal system is not as desirable as keeping one’s promise, it seems to be the only means to deal with this issue at this time.”
Today, Hopkins continues to sell high quality pre-owned vehicle and trailers with guaranteed credit approval. The state-of-the-art service department, which never ceased, works on all makes and models. The 4909 Hwy 90 E business can be reached at 850-526-3456.
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