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Lawsuit Says Not Even Kia Is Safe From This Scummy Kia Dealer

Dan O'Brien Auto Group is no stranger to controversy over questionable business practices, and now, one of the brands it once sold is taking it to court.
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When a big corporation gets called out by the little guy, there’s usually a cheering section for Little Mac. But what if the tables are turned and Goliath is the victim? That’s allegedly the case in a new lawsuit that pegs Kia America against Dan O’Brien Auto Group.

According to Automotive News, Kia filed suit in New Hampshire federal court in early May accusing the New England dealer of reporting fraudulent sales and pocketing more than $500,000 in the process. Kia names dealer principal Dan O’Brien, six stores, and COO Tom Kuhn as defendants in the complaint.

In the filing, the automaker identified roughly 300 questionable retail delivery reports but expects that number to increase during pretrial discovery. The dealerships in question were in Norwood, Massachusetts, and the New Hampshire towns of Concord and North Hampton. All locations have since been sold. 

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Dan O’Brien Auto Group is accused of deliberately falsifying retail delivery reports by failing to report sales reversals or cancellations and recording a sale when none occurred. Kia alleges that the dealer went so far as transferring vehicles back and forth between Kia and non-Kia stores to hide irregularities.

However, on-site audits seemingly caught the dealer in the act when more than 20 vehicles that were claimed as sold were reportedly on-property at two retail locations. Further digging turned up an alleged “substantial discrepancy” between the new vehicles listed in inventory versus what the stores should’ve had. Kia says the difference would’ve been larger had the dealer group not been notified of future audits and wholesaled more than 100 vehicles.  

The allegations certainly look bad for the Dan O’Brien dealer group. Of course, it can harp about being innocent until proven guilty. Though, it’s already been accused of deceptive practices toward consumers. There was no guilt established in this case, which involved the same Concord, New Hampshire, store. 

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In a settlement for that instance, the dealer group paid a $1.25 million fine for what the state’s attorney general called “some pretty egregious behavior.” The dealership was also required to hire an independent monitor as well as record every consumer transaction with audio and video for the next five years.

The attorney general’s office had received numerous complaints of the dealership manipulating shoppers into loans beyond their means with the promise that they could refinance after six months. The problem was, there was no such refinancing program, which left owners stuck with cars they couldn’t afford. The dealership also allegedly inflated buyers’ incomes on loan applications, submitted loan paperwork without the buyer’s approval, and straight-up forged documents.

Kia is seeking compensatory and punitive damages under both federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and state laws. Its filing lists “breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conspiracy, fraud, conversion, and negligent misrepresentation.” 

Dan O’Brien Auto Group wants the whole thing dismissed because a Massachusetts federal judge had already blocked the automaker from making RICO claims in a separate dealership termination-related suit.

Dan O’Brien Auto Group

For the record, the dealer group continues to use Kia B-roll on its website, even though it no longer sells Kia vehicles, with a “Keepin’ It Awesome” tagline prominently displayed. Sheesh. Have we run out of popcorn yet?