A mysterious Ford GT was able to cross the block for $1.2 million more than the car’s $450,000 MSRP at Mecum auctions in May of this year, despite the company aggressively enforcing anti-flipping provisions signed by all Ford GT buyers. Now, we know how that happened—Ford tried to block the sale, and now it’s seeking damages from Mecum.
The automaker, which sued wrestler John Cena for selling his Ford GT, filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent the car from being sold. The motion was filed on May 17, just two days before the GT was scheduled to go up for auction.
The crux of the case came down to the pre-auction ownership of the car. According to Ford’s complaint, the Ford GT originally was purchased by John W. Miller, who signed a contract agreeing not to sell the vehicle for the first 24 months of ownership. Resale, then, should be blocked. However, the car apparently wasn’t being offered by Miller.
According to Miller, Mecum and dealership owner Michael J. Flynn, Miller had sold the vehicle to Flynn. Flynn, and his dealership Hollywood Wheels, claim they aren’t bound by any contract with Ford that Miller signed.
That, too, is how the judge saw it. Ford’s complaint alleged that the original sale was questionable and that there was reason to believe the plan was to auction the car from the beginning, but Judge Heather Welch in Indiana stated in her denial of the motion that the company couldn’t quite back up its claim:
“11. Ford’s claim rests entirely on its theory that Mecum tortuously interfered with the contract between Miller and Ford. Ford argues “Mecum contracted with Miller to auction the Ford GT, intentionally inducing Miller to breach his contract with Ford.” (Plf. Br. at 7.) However, Ford has not presented any evidence to the Court that Miller is the current legal owner of the 2017 Ford GT. Mecum, on the other hand, presented evidence that Mike Flynn purchased the 2017 Ford GT from Miller. Specifically, Mecum presented Exhibit A, a written instrument signed by Miller and Flynn, and Exhibit B, the Affidavit of Michael J. Flynn Jr., indicating Flynn purchased the car from Miller.
12. If Flynn is now the true legal owner and titleholder to the car, as the evidence tends to show, Ford will not reasonably be able to show that Mecum tortuously interfered With a contract between Miller and Ford based on the current designations.”
Perhaps more importantly, Ford was unable to demonstrate that the company would experience “irreparable harm” should the sale not be blocked. To grant an immediate restraining order, a plaintiff must show that the immediate harm cannot be remedied at a later date. Given that this case mostly centered around a value claim, the judge wrote that it could be repaired at a later date if harm is proven:
The key word in this consideration is irreparable. Mere injuries, however substantial, in terms of money, time and energy necessarily expended in the absence of a stay, are not enough. The possibility that adequate compensatory or other corrective relief Will be available at a later date, in the ordinary course of litigation, weighs heavily against a claim of irreparable harm.
With the motion denied, Mecum was clear to offer the car for auction. But just because the company couldn’t prove immediate and irreparable harm doesn’t mean Ford doesn’t have a case. As a result, Ford’s after damages from Flynn and Mecum in Indiana court, as Fox News reported this week.
The court has scheduled the initial attorney conference for August 17. In the meantime, there doesn’t seem to be much Ford can do to prevent the GT sold in May from trading hands again.
In response to Jalopnik’s request for further comment from the automaker, Ford provided the following:
Ford does not comment on legal or individual customer matters. What we can say is that all Ford GT customers sign contracts, which include an agreement not to sell the car for at least two years.
We’ve also reached out to Mecum for comment and will update if they respond.