Spyker appeal GM case dismissal

I missed this story when I was on holiday but thanks to Victor himself dropping in on our comments section yesterday, I had reason to go searching for the story.

Bottom line: On October 1st, Spyker appealed the judge’s dismissal of their case.

Source: Law 360. Click that link to read the story in full.

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Dutch carmaker Spyker NV urged the Sixth Circuit on Tuesday to revive its $3 billion lawsuit alleging General Motors Co. pushed Saab Automobile AB into bankruptcy by interfering with Spyker’s bid to sell the Swedish automaker to Chinese investors, claiming a district court judge erred in tossing the suit.

Spyker and Saab’s suit alleged that GM public announcements scuttled the deal on the eve of its signing, but a district court tossed the lone claim of tortious interference with economic expectancy, ruling that they had no anticipated business relationship because the unsigned framework agreement merely outlined a further set of agreements that still needed to be arranged and approved in short order.

In a brief filed with the Sixth Circuit, Spyker and Saab claimed the lower court committed “three critical errors” in dismissing their suit, the first being the conclusion that the failed deal left the automakers without a valid expectation of a business deal.

“Far from wishful thinking, Saab stood to gain an immediate cash investment of €10 million on signing the framework agreement,” according to the brief.

Spyker and Saab claimed the lower court erred further by incorrectly interpreting GM’s rights under existing contracts and then using that misreading to find that GM had not acted maliciously in speaking out against the deal.

“Consequently, this court should reverse the judgment of the district court and remand the case for further proceedings,” the brief said.

Spyker filed the suit in August 2012, claiming that Saab was forced into liquidation in Swedish court in December 2011 after GM doomed a proposed $142 million sale of Saab to Chinese automaker Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. by making public statements in December 2011 that it would cut off crucial technology licensing deals if Spyker went ahead with a the proposed deal.

The Dutch company contended that GM’s alleged tortuous interference cost it at least $3 billion.

GM moved to dismiss the suit, asserting that its own deal with Spyker put limits on the future use of GM technology in Saab cars and gave the U.S. automaker consent rights regarding any future sale of the Swedish company.

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Again, you can read the full story at Law 360.

And if you want more background on the case from a SWadeology point of view, click here. The official Spyker release about the case when it was first launched is here.

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I have to say I don’t feel optimistic about Spyker’s chances with this case. That’s not because I don’t believe in it, because I do. I’d love to see GM held accountable for its lack of stewardship of Saab and the disadvantaged position they placed the company in. I simply think it’s going to be hard to convince a judge in GM’s own backyard that they should be held accountable. I’d love to believe that Lady Justice is blind, but I don’t.

I do wish Spyker and Saab well with this suit, though. GM could have taken measures to protect their interests and still allowed Saab a future until such a time as Saab’s cars became GM-free. They killed it because they could.

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9 Comments

  1. So,assuming success, where would the $3 billion end up? VM’s pocket, Spyker’s accounts or the bankruptcy administrator?

    1. The case is being fought by Spyker cars and Saab, so the proceeds would be split. Someone’s bankrolling the legal costs, too, and I’m sure they have a slice earmarked.

  2. GM has more money for lawyers , moral ground wont hold up in a chamber with lawyers sadly .
    SAAB is a car that should be made but GM has a grudge and will forever be a bully to the brand .

  3. Gents: This isn’t a moral referendum on Saab v. GM. It’s a decision on whether Spyker had the right to transfer GM licensing to a new corporate owner of Saab. That’s it. It isn’t about who should win in the end, it’s about what was in the contract that Spyker signed for the rights to the licenses in question.

    Swade, you and I agree on many things. However, you and I are not going to agree on your assertion that the U.S. Federal judiciary are somehow GM’s lapdogs. I assure you they are not. Google for yourself here, here and here, the Big Three do not have the best winning percentage in the same court. These splashy cases get a ton of attention by many, many lawyers who would love to make a name for themselves by picking apart a sloppy or obviously biased decision upon appeal, and no judge wants to be shown up that way. It simply isn’t true that Spyker can’t get a fair shake in Detroit; to the contrary, I think that this decision (like the previous decision) will be picked apart by many insiders and the wrongs will be made public.

    1. I know I’m subjective on this, Eggs. You don’t need to spell that out to me. And for the record, I’ve stated that I don’t think Spyker will win this argument. And further, that’s not because I think US courts are GM’s lapdogs (that’s a very long bow to draw on your first statement, by the way).

      I don’t think Spyker will win because GM will go hard saying that they were just protecting their IP and a court in Michigan will listen and understand. I don’t think Spyker will be able to convince the court that the protections they put in place in those proposals were watertight. Yes, I want those protections to be watertight but I don’t know if they were and regardless I don’t think the court will see them that way. On the first go round, they didn’t even look at them.

      On your second comment – I agree that Saab for a long, long time were not even a blip on GM’s radar. But at the time of the bankruptcy, there were active decisions made at GM that led to Saab closing down. It’s a brief moment of thought, but it’s there.

      You pre-suppose that everyone thinks “GM loves to hate Saab”. I think that’s quite exaggerated and unnecessary to make a point. I think the vast majority of people that I know would agree with you that GM just didn’t pay enough attention to Saab and didn’t know what it had. That alone is enough to make people angry.

      1. Hmm…. I don’t know if my previous post is held for later or not. Second entry:

        If I were too strong here, I apologize. My point: I don’t think that the venue matters at all — I think that the contract does. The fact that the court dismissed the case in the first place tells me that GM and Spyker agreed to some terms that disallowed the transaction that Spyker wanted to persue. You see, rather than accuse the court of petty corruption, I choose to say that the contract was likely the issue. And I still believe that.

        As for the ‘GM loves to hate Saab’, I disagree — you already had a poster that had gone that far when I wrote that. Once again, the ‘active decisions’ were made to close down many things, Saab included, to stop the bleeding. The huge GM plant 20 miles from me (which employs about the same number as the plant in Trollhattan did) was shuttered before Saab was since GM held on to the fact that Koenigsegg would take ownership.

        As for anger about Saab’s demise because GM was an indifferent owner? Yes, I’m unhappy about that, too. I’m just not angry about the short period of twists that lead to the ultimate demise. I’m much more angry about how Rick Wagoner neglected to continue even the mildly positive Saab stewardship of John Smith. Criminal.

  4. And, in response to the inevitable “GM loves to hate Saab” comments, please think clearly here, I beg of you.

    GM’s crime against Saab was utter indifference, not antithesis. I am very confident that stance hasn’t changed. GM would love for Saab to go away, never to be heard from again. They have much, MUCH bigger problems on their hands. “Bullying” Saab? There aren’t enough people at GM that even care.

    1. Just the way it feels to myself , Given what I saw in Ford letting go of Volvo , but that’s was a whole different animal . I See SAAB on the ECO block in a 2007 HHR chevy and I know GM can do as it pleases . I’m a nobody to GM and SAAB ,however after I started working on SAAB cars in 1976 the sting is there . Sorry to offend .

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