Gib Dannehower has his Deland Dodge dealership back.
Dannehower was axed in May 2009 when Chrysler terminated 789 franchise agreements after the government’s bailout forced the automaker to restructure. Early last week, however, an arbitrator ruled that Chrysler must reinstate the car dealer’s Florida franchise.
Deland Dodge is currently the only franchise to be reinstated as a result of the arbitration hearings ordered by Congress. Three other Chrysler dealerships also tried to regain their Chrysler franchise deals the same time as Dannehower, but failed - Joe Kidd Dodge in Cincinnati, Venice Nissan Dodge in Venice, Fla., and Bob Taylor Jeep in Naples, Fla.
"I think the judge realized that a mistake was made in our termination,” Dannehower told CNN.”We were the leading volume dealer in the market selling new and used cars in the town of Deland."
Despite its earlier victories, Chrysler was less enthusiastic about the mandated reinstatement.
"We are disappointed by the arbitrator's decision regarding DeLand Dodge,'' Chrysler said in a statement. "This decision undermines the Federal Bankruptcy Court Order that affirmed the rationalization process used to reject this dealership agreement. “
Despite their disappointment, Chrysler will issue a letter of intent to Dannehower in accordance with the arbitration’s statutory requirement. Dannehower plans to reopen Deland Dodge alongside the Kia dealership he currently operates.
With only four cases heard, Chrysler still has a way to go in the arbitration process, which was mandated by Congress in December. More than 400 franchises filed cases against the automaker, which has offered settlements to some of its franchises. The remaining cases will all be heard over the next few months as the arbitration must be completed by June 15.