Ten Volvo, International dealers sue Detroit Diesel

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Ten Volvo and International dealers have launched a federal suit against Detroit Diesel and 17 of its distributors, claiming the engine maker violated the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Seeking class-action status on behalf of “all others similarly situated,” the dealers filed suit Feb. 9 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to recover damages that they claim result from price fixing and an illegal boycott.

Phone calls to Detroit Diesel representatives were not returned.

“We believe there was a great wrong that occurred here, and we look forward to pursing the case in court and rectifying this problem for a lot of truck drivers that were damaged,” said Wayne Mack, the plaintiffs’ attorney.

The dealers claim that Detroit Diesel, owned since 2000 by DaimlerChrysler, boycotted International and Volvo dealers that were not DaimlerChrysler-affiliated and refused to honor warranty repair pledges on trucks the dealers had originally sold.

The dealers also allege they were forced to pay higher prices for Detroit Diesel engine parts than were truck dealers that sell DaimlerChrysler brands, such as Freightliner, Western Star and Sterling.

The case actually involves two suits filed against Detroit Diesel. The first, Mack said, involves dealers that lost the ability to do any work on Detroit Diesel engines. Plaintiffs in that group include:

  • Cumberland Truck Equipment of Ephrata, Pa.
  • Bowersox Truck Sales & Service of Williamsport, Pa.
  • Allegheny Trucks of Altoona, Pa.
  • Landmark International Trucks of Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Burr Truck & Trailer Sales of Vestal, N.Y.
  • Southland International of Louisiana of Gray, La.
  • The second suit, Mack said, involves dealers who had to switch from major engine repair to minor maintenance work. Plaintiffs in that group include:

  • Diamond International Trucks of North Little Rock, Ark.
  • Mid-America International Trucks of Memphis, Tenn.
  • Texas Truck Centers of Houston, which does business as International Trucks of Houston, Longhorn International Trucks and Olympic Truck Center.
  • Wheeling Truck Center of Wheeling, W.Va.
  • “We are looking to recover the overcharges on the parts purchased, and we are looking to recover the loss of repair services they would have performed on the engines on the trucks they sold,” Mack said. “I expect that to be many millions of dollars.”