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Nissan settles lawsuit with four Cleveland-area dealers over incentives given to Bernie Moreno

August 8, 2018

Nissan settles lawsuit with four Cleveland-area dealers over incentives given to Bernie Moreno

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Nissan North America has settled a lawsuit filed by the owners of four Cleveland-area dealerships that said they were unfairly burdened by financial incentives the car manufacturer gave to their competitor, car mogul Bernie Moreno.

Matt Greenberg, who owns dealerships in Bedford and Mentor, and Mike D’Amato, the owner of dealers in North Olmsted and Sheffield Village, said in a 2016 lawsuit that Nissan violated state and federal anti-price discrimination laws by illegally giving millions of dollars to dealerships owned by Moreno and by excluding them.

Moreno was not named as a defendant to the lawsuit.

The terms of the settlement reached between Nissan, Greenberg and D’Amato are confidential, according to Greenberg’s and D’Amato’s attorney Christopher DeVito.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster urged both sides to settle the case, and negotiations took place over several months, court records show. Polster dismissed the lawsuit on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Nissan did not immediately provide a comment.

The lawsuit said Moreno bought the assets of franchises in Middleburg Heights and Streetsboro with money that came after Nissan approached him with financial incentives not available to other Nissan dealers. The “illegal incentive program” dated back to 2012, the suit says.

The payments allowed Moreno, who moved the Middleburg Heights franchise to Brookpark Road in Cleveland, to buy new cars to sell at lower prices than his competitors, according to the suit.

Moreno said in 2016 that D’Amato and the Greenbergs were “just upset we are selling more cars than they are, because we are selling more cars than they are.”

He said Wednesday that he sold the Nissan dealerships at issue while the lawsuit was pending, as well as three Infiniti dealerships he owned in Cleveland, Beachwood and Akron. Infiniti is a division of Nissan

Moreno said has since bought back the Nissan dealership in Streetsboro and is in the process of buying back the Brookpark Road Nissan dealership.

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