Barrett Jackson Lawsuit

March 19th, 2007 by William

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I just read a press release regarding anti-defamation suit from the famous classic car auction company Barrett-Jackson. The lawsuit, which was filed on March 15th in a U.S. District Court, was entered in response to a disgruntled consignor who was unhappy with some facet of the auction process or the result of the auction itself. According the release, “the consignor, apparently unhappy with the $300,000 sale price of his vehicle, placed chains and locks on the vehicle after it crossed the auction block and was sold, while it sat in the area where featured auction cars were displayed”.

The press release which was issued by Barrett-Jackson continues, “he posted multiple notices on the vehicle claiming that the sale was void due to claimed ‘auction irregularities,’ and published other false and defamatory statements about Barrett-Jackson in view of the company’s customers and the thousands of patrons attending the event”. Apparently the consignor was upset enough to launch an online smear campaign against Barrett-Jackson with “numerous defamatory rumors and untrue statements being published to websites and online chat rooms viewed by the company’s core customer base”. The press release refers to one particular “untrue, derogatory and defamatory ‘article’” which was published on more than 20 “automotive-related online ‘blogs’ and discussion boards frequented by thousands of classic car enthusiasts around the world”.

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As an automotive blogger I know first hand that there is a definite lack of quality control when it comes to online gossip. However, I’m hesitant to jump in the Barrett-Jackson corner for two reasons. The first is that I have worked in classic car consignment and it is a shady business full of misdirection, deception and occasionally out right lies. Even if Barrett-Jackson is massive company with a long standing reputation, they are still part of that line of work (just like not trusting politicians).

Secondly, Sports Car Market’s own Keith Martin was recently tossed out of a Barrett-Jackson event for supposedly talking bad about the company for pushing the prices of muscle cars up and recommending rival auctions amongst other things. He may have deserved to get tossed even know he denies the actions, but I know people who know Keith, and while he does have a bit of mouth on him, he is a pretty straight talker and tends to tell it like it is. I trust his word more than the Barrett-Jackson, and think that throwing a journalist and auction specialist out of your auction because he is a being critical is a bit fascist.

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That being said I will keep an open mind and reserve judgment on this particular news item until I hear the out come of the case (years from now no doubt).

Copies of the lawsuit can be obtained by contacting the clerk of the U.S. District Court in Phoenix or at: http://www.azd.uscourts.gov/.
-Bill Mertz

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About William

I am a twenty something car enthusiast. I spend most of my days working in a small restoration shop in Northern California that specializes in vintage Alfa Romeos. I also manage to do some freelance writing for a handful of automotive publications. When I'm not at the shop I can usually be found working on one of my own project cars, out driving on a good windy road or good jeep trail. Despite what my girlfriend says cars aren't what defines me, they are only what I do. When I have a chance I also love to go camping, play sports or generally do any type of outdoor activity. I don't take myself to seriously, so I hope you don't either.

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