Tag Archives: Lawsuit


NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ — Ending nearly two years of litigation, an Orange County jury recently voted unanimously in favor of SVP International and against Toyota Motor Sales, USA, awarding significant damages to the Toyota supplier.

SVP was hired by Toyota in August 2007 to design and engineer a high-performance version of the Tundra truck that would serve as Toyota’s entrance into the high-performance vehicle market. This case was of national importance, as it was Toyota’s first attempt at entering the high-performance segment. SVP expected that after the high-performance Tundra was completed, it would build other high-performance vehicles for Toyota, possibly including the premier Lexus brand.

SVP, a company founded by race-car driver Steve Saleen and entrepreneur Wayne Grafton, was selected by Toyota through a lengthy competitive bid process. Yet, after Toyota contracted with SVP, and after SVP began working on the project, Toyota cancelled the project with SVP and later cancelled the program altogether. When Toyota refused to recognize SVP’s contract or any of the work that SVP had performed, Michaels Law Group filed suit against the manufacturer in the Orange County Superior Court.

Jonathan Michaels, founding member of Michaels Law Group, had the following to say: “What was most disappointing about this case is the way that Toyota handled it. They knew that a contract for the project had been issued, and that SVP had begun working on the project and had incurred expenses, yet they completely disregarded SVP altogether.”

The jury apparently agreed with Michaels’ assessment. After a 4-week trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict against Toyota, awarding significant damages to SVP. “This case is important in that it shows that small businesses have a voice,” says Michaels. “Toyota is not above the law, and we are not afraid to prove it to them.”

Following trial, Toyota entered into a confidential settlement agreement with SVP, whereby SVP agreed to not disclose the amount of the jury verdict.

Located in the heart of Newport Beach, Michaels Law Group is a full service business law firm, specializing in complex litigation and advanced business transactions, with a specialty in the automotive industry.

Founding member Jonathan Michaels, an avid car collector and automotive enthusiast, has litigated cases against nearly every automotive manufacturer and has been involved in structuring some of the most significant automotive transactions to date. With this unique background, Michaels Law Group has become well-known in the automotive industry as the “go to” firm for business transactions and automotive-related disputes.

If you’d like to schedule an interview with Jonathan Michaels, please contact Kelly Pion at 949.581.6900 or email Kelly at kpion@michaelslawgroup.com.


[SOURCE Michaels Law Group]


To note:

  • In February, 2009, MJ Acquistitions purchased many of the assets of Saleen Inc., including the rights to the Saleen brand, and certain assets relating to Saleen’s supercharger, aftermarket and high performance street vehicle businesses.
  • That part of the company is now doing business as Saleen Performance Vehicles, as a member of the automotive technology enterprise that also includes Power-Tec Engineering, Cyltec, Control-Tec, and Arrow Racing Engines.
  • Saleen Performance Vehicles is preparing to launch two, new Saleen high-performance 2010 Mustangs this year, including a vehicle later this week during Mustang Week activities in Myrtle Beach, SC.
  • Steve Saleen officially left Saleen, Inc. in 2007.

Statement from Mike Shields, President and CEO of Saleen Performance Vehicles:

TROY, Mich., July 20 — We’re dismayed by the lawsuit that was filed this weekend by Steve Saleen, and even more disappointed by the fact that it appears to be an attempt to disrupt the debut of our new Saleen vehicle this week.

Our company’s purchase of certain assets in February entitles us to use the Saleen brand for our superchargers, aftermarket parts and high performance vehicles, and we look forward to continuing the legacy of great Saleen products that fulfill the brand promise of ‘Power in the Hands of a Few.’

While this lawsuit is an unfortunate minor distraction, our dedicated team of enthusiasts is excited about not only the launch of our exciting new Saleen car later this week, but also on working closely with our loyal dealers and customers to ensure their satisfaction. As I stated last week during a media teleconference, we are working to resolve past warranty issues and have every intention of going forward with a warranty policy that will provide confidence to all our valued stakeholders.

The Saleen Performance Vehicles brand is not about one person. It represents a legacy of high-performance vehicles that has developed over the past quarter century, and we feel privileged to be entrusted with that legacy going forward. Everyone in our company takes that responsibility seriously. That’s why we’re so enthusiastic about the future of our company, and why we can’t wait to begin its latest chapter this week at Myrtle Beach.

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Orange County, California. (July 17, 2009) Steve Saleen and his company, Steve Saleen’s SMS Supercars, announced today that they have filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court in California, seeking an order directing MJ Acquisitions, Inc. to cease and desist from promoting their products under the Saleen name in any form. Concurrently, Mr. Saleen is also seeking additional, related remedies from the company that formerly carried his name. This action is an additional move to continue to protect the name, reputation and brand value of Steve Saleen, and to reassure his loyal customers, dealers and car enthusiasts that only Steve Saleen’s SMS Supercar performance vehicles and products are genuine and deserving to carry his name. Steve Saleen ceded control of the company he founded, Saleen, Inc., in 2003 and left it completely in the spring of 2007 without any further management association. The non-enthusiast corporate executives sold a number of assets to a company by the name of MJ Acquisitions, Inc., changed the company’s name, and in early 2009 ceased operations altogether.

True Steve Saleen performance vehicles again available in the market

After having left his previous company, Mr. Saleen started Steve Saleen’s SMS Supercars in 2008 and unveiled his newest creation, the SMS 570 Challenger, in January of this year. After having participated in the 2009 National American Dealers Association show as part of the official Chrysler Group display, Steve Saleen’s SMS Supercars successfully launched the SMS 570X Challenger and the new SMS 296 Supercharger at the New York International Auto Show in April of 2009, where many media ranked them among the stars of the show. Steve Saleen’s SMS 460 and 460X Mustangs were announced at the 45th Mustang Anniversary show in Alabama in April, with more info and images to be released this weekend at the Mustangs Northwest Roundup in Seattle and during the 2009 Mustang Week in Myrtle Beach starting Monday, July 20.

Steve Saleen steps up and protects his brand, name, reputation and customers “SMS Supercars is the new Saleen” (Steve Saleen)

In April 2009, Steve Saleen announced support for his customers and dealers affected negatively by the demise of the company that long carried his name. In a statement issued in April, he said: “The company I launched a long time ago announced it will no longer honor its product warranties, nor will the acquiring company for those assets, MJ Acquisitions, Inc. This kind of ‘customer treatment’ damages my reputation, misleads customers and cannot be left unaddressed.” Steve Saleen announced that SMS Supercars would guarantee the warranties that MJ Acquisitions abandoned. Mr. Saleen went on to say: “It amuses me that faceless executives and wannabes are trying to misrepresent themselves as some kind of continuation of Saleen, which they are not. SMS Supercars is the true Saleen. It is the only company I endorse, the only company entitled to use my name and legacy, and the only company that carries my signature on its products, because they are my products. The legal action we have undertaken today will emphasize once and for all that the only genuine Saleen products are mine.

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[Source: SMS Supercars]