The Duncan Banner

July 26, 2013

Day-to-day business at dealerships OK amid legal feud

Mike Smith
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — The two Mike Terry auto dealerships in Duncan are selling and servicing vehicles as usual despite a largely behind-the-scenes fight over control of the business.

“It really hasn’t interrupted operations and it doesn’t have anything to do with day-to-day operations of the stores, it’s more the big business side,” said Mike Terry, who is among a group of investors from Edmond who bought the dealerships last December.

“From our standpoint we want to take care of the customers,” Terry said Thursday. “Everyone knows how important every customer is. We want to make sure we do everything we can for the customer.”

The dispute landed in court last week after a group of five partners tried to oust Terry as dealer principal of Chisholm Trail Auto Group, which operates Mike Terry Chevrolet-Buick-GMC on U.S. Highway 81, and Chisholm Trail Auto Group II, which runs Mike Terry Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram at the Duncan/Lawton Y.

In court documents, the five claim Terry made misrepresentations in financial statements and other matters and has treated the dealerships as if they belong solely to him when he is just a minority owner.

The five partners say they make up a “super majority” on a board of managers for the dealerships and had authority to fire Terry and name partner Roger Ely as the new dealer principal.

The others seeking to oust Terry are Vahid Salalati, Greg Luster, Ty Hartwig and Richard Horton.

Terry claims the group does not have authority to remove and fire him because he owns a majority of stock in an entity called Four Horsemen Auto Group, which he says has controlling membership in the dealerships.

Repeated efforts by The Banner to contact attorneys for the group of other partners were unsuccessful Thursday.

Terry claims that on July 15, when he was in Oklahoma City, some of the partners came to the dealerships in Duncan and told some department heads and anyone who asked for court documents about the matter they were fired.

Terry quickly sought and received a temporary restraining order, issued by Stephens County District Court Judge Joe Enos on July 16, that essentially bars him from being fired and maintains the status-quo for now.

Terry said Thursday that everyone purportedly fired came back the next day and resumed working, and for customers, it has been business as usual.

He said the other partners are upset over disbursements of dividend payments and acted hastily and illegally.

A court hearing on the matter had been set for last Tuesday, July 23, but that has been continued until Aug. 12.

Attorneys for both sides have been talking with each other and it is possible they could settle the dispute without further, in-depth legal proceedings.

 But the other five partners have asked that the restraining order be dissolved or, in the alternative, have the court appoint an independent receiver to take control of the dealerships.

They claim in court documents the dealerships “cannot effectively operate in the current state of affairs due to Terry’s mismanagement and misconduct and the dissention among Terry and others.”

Terry said the move to oust him was a breach of franchise agreements with General Motors and Chrysler and will damage his good standing with the auto makers.

He said the others acted illegally in going to the dealerships and trying to fire people. He also claims they started rumors “that hurt the dealerships and our place in the community.”

“The environment was shaky for 24 hours but it (the time period) gave everyone (employees) a renewed interest in making sure that every customer is absolutely taken care of,” he said.

The dealerships were owned and operated for years by Larry Battison and the Battison Auto Group, which sold them last December to the group of investors from Edmond that includes Terry.