In the wake of the guilty verdicts last week against two former executives of American Honda, a San Diego woman who owned three Honda dealerships has filed suit against the company, claiming she lost more than $30 million in revenue because of illegal practices by the auto maker and its former employees.
June Jensen, in a complaint filed Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court, accused American Honda and at least two of its former employees of racketeering, fraud, negligence and breach of contract.
Last week, two former top executives of Torrance-based American Honda were found guilty in a massive bribery scheme involving dealers around the nation. Prosecutors said the bribery ring demanded the payments from dealers in return for extra allotments of Honda and Acura models, which were in heavy demand in the 1980s.
At least 30 damage suits have already been filed nationwide against American Honda by dealers who say they suffered losses because of the favoritism shown to those who paid bribes. Jensen's suit is one of many that are expected to be filed because of the verdicts last week.
Honda officials, who were unavailable Wednesday for comment on Jensen's lawsuit, have declined in the past to comment on the civil suits.
In her lawsuit, Jensen said Stanley J. Cardiges of Laguna Hills--a leader of the bribery scheme who pleaded guilty to racketeering and fraud--tried to force her in August, 1985, to sell her dealership in San Diego to a third party for well below its market value. Jensen said that she refused, and that beginning that month her allocations of new cars were reduced sharply.
As a result, the lawsuit said, Jensen's business suffered, and in December, 1986, she was forced to sell her dealership for much less than its actual value.
Jensen said a similar reduction of motorcycles forced her to sell a dealership.
Jensen's suit claims that the highest officials of American Honda, including its chief executive, were aware of the bribery scheme. However, while other Honda dealers have made that allegation, no top company officials have ever been charged.
The American Honda bribery investigation, one of the largest in U.S. automotive history, led to the indictment of 24 people, of whom 20 pleaded guilty. The two found guilty last week were a western zone sales manager and a senior vice president for sales.