Iranian-born car dealer wins $7.5 million in “Taliban Toyota” Alabama lawsuitS

Thanks to a perception of versatility, reliability and affordability, the Toyota Hilux is the pickup truck of choice for terrorists and mercenaries all over the world. Now, a Florida car dealer is paying $7.5 million for making that association at the expense of a rival Iranian-born car dealer.

Shawn Esfahani, the Tehran-born owner of Eastern Shore Toyota in Mobile, Alabama, sued Bob Tyler Toyota just across the border in Pensacola, Florida after it came to his attention that Bob Tyler employees were referring to Esfahani's dealership as "Middle Eastern Shore Toyota" or "Taliban Toyota" as well as stating that his dealership was not only funding terrorists, but laundering money for them as well. Al.com reports that while a couple were in Esfahani's showroom, a Bob Tyler salesman called them over saying,

"I can't believe you are buying from that terrorist. He is from Iraq, and he is funneling money back to his family and other terrorists. I have a brother over there, and what you're doing is helping kill my brother."

Esfahani asked for $28 million in damages and compensatory and punitive damages. During the trial, both dealerships accused the other of being in financial trouble with Esfahani claiming Bob Tyler needed money and was resorting to slander to steal sales and Bob Tyler accusing Esfahani of starting a bogus lawsuit to fund his ailing showroom. In the end, the jury voted in favor of Esfahani and Eastern Shore and awarded him $2.5 million in compensatory and $5.0 million in punitive damages.

Strange enough is the actual popularity of Toyota pickups among the Taliban. It was Wade Hoyt, a Toyota spokesperson, who said of the popularity of Toyota trucks on the other side of the battlefield, "It shows that the Taliban are looking for the same qualities as any truck buyer: durability and reliability.'' Just to honor their fundamental vehicle, the Taliban are getting maple-leaf tattoos just like the flags on Canadian-built Hiluxes. Hell, there was even a war in Chad and Libya so dominated by Toyota pickups, it's still called the Toyota War.

While enthusiasts, and at times, the Toyota PR department, are proud of the stamp of approval given to Toyota trucks by small armies and terrorist groups from Sub-Saharan Africa to the Middle East, it seems that not everyone is happy with the association.

Hat Tip to BtheD19
Photo Credit: Filatov Alexey/Shutterstock