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C&K Auto Imports, Inc. v. Daimler, AG

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 21, 2013

C&K AUTO IMPORTS, INC. & C&K AUTO IMPORTS SOUTH, INC., Plaintiffs-Respondents,
v.
DAIMLER, AG, Defendant-Respondent, and MERCEDES BENZ USA, LLC, CROSSROADS MERCEDES BENZ OF LYNCHBURG VIRGINIA, INC., MERCEDES BENZ FINANCIAL, THE YOKOHAMA TRADING COMPANY, LLC, TOM SEKIGAMI, Individually, DEALER GUARD and INTREPID INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants, and GARFF ENTERPRISES, INC., d/b/a KEN GARFF IMPORTS, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 4, 2013

On appeal from an interlocutory order of Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Docket No. L-4922-12.

Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, attorneys for appellant (Alicia Calaf and Walter F. Kawalec, III, on the briefs).

Law Offices of Ian J. Hirsch & Associates, LLC, attorneys for respondents C&K Auto Imports, Inc. & C&K Auto Imports South, Inc. (Ian J. Hirsch, on the brief).

Before Judges Ashrafi and Espinosa.

PER CURIAM

We granted defendant Garff Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a/ Ken Garff Imports (Garff), leave to appeal from an order that denied its motion to dismiss the action against it on jurisdictional grounds. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

Unless otherwise stated, the following facts are derived from the complaint.

Plaintiff C&K Auto Imports, Inc. (C&K) is licensed to do business by the State of New Jersey and has corporate offices in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. Plaintiff C&K Auto Imports South, Inc. (C&K South), is licensed to do business by the State of Florida and has corporate offices in Lighthouse Point, Florida.

Garff is a franchise dealer of Mercedes Benz automobiles doing business in Salt Lake City, Utah. A certification by Michael D. Creer, Vice President and General Counsel for Garff, states that Garff is incorporated under the laws of the State of Utah, has its principal place of business in Salt Lake City, and is in the business of selling and leasing vehicles in the Salt Lake City vicinity.

This action concerns a 2008 CL 65K AMG Mercedes Benz twelve-cylinder Bi Turbo two-door coupe, Vehicle Identification Number WDDEJ79X58A012250 (the vehicle), which was originally sold to Garff by Mercedes Benz USA, LLC (MBUSA) for $200, 775. The vehicle was shipped into the United States at the port of Los Angeles and shipped to Garff in Salt Lake City. On October 18, 2007, the vehicle was leased to a person or persons identified in the complaint as John Does 1-10. The complaint alleges that Garff leased the vehicle to John Does 1-10, but also that "John Does 1-10 leased the vehicle from Daimler Trust" and that "the vehicle was leased through MB Financial"[1] with title remaining in Daimler Title Company o/b/o Daimler Trust. The complaint does not explain the apparent inconsistency in the allegations that Garff, MB Financial and Daimler Trust leased the vehicle.

Upon expiration of the lease in October 2009, the complaint alleges that Daimler Trust took possession of the vehicle as title holder and sent the vehicle to be auctioned at the Manheim Auction Facility in Las Vegas. The vehicle was purchased online by CrossRoads Mercedes Benz of Lynchburg, Virginia, Inc. (CrossRoads), [2] which in turn sold the vehicle to plaintiffs[3] and was shipped directly to them in Florida. Thereafter, plaintiffs shipped the vehicle to their warehouse in New Jersey.

Tom Sekigami, the president and owner of The Yokohama Trading Co., LLC (Yokohama), contacted plaintiffs through a website and purchased the vehicle for $120, 000. Yokohama directed plaintiffs to ship the vehicle from JFK International Airport to Japan. Prior to shipment, Doron Sauer, CEO and owner of both plaintiffs, detected a noise and had the vehicle inspected by an authorized MBUSA and ...


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