By Deardra Shuler
Dick Gidron Takes GM to Court
The name Dick Gidron is well known within the African American community as the first African American to head a black Cadillac car dealership in New York. Mr. Gidron’s association with General Motors (GM) for the last 30 years has earned him his reputation as a dependable employer, conscientious business leader, and generous benefactor.
On December 5, 2006, circumstances found Dick Gidron and a cadre of social, religious and political supporters standing on the steps of the GM building located at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue informing the public of a deal between Gidron and GM gone very wrong. Appearing stoic in the face of adversity, Dick Gidron faced the blistering wind and chilly temperature as he and a cadre of supporters informed the press about the losses Gidron suffered as a result of GM having violated a written agreement the company had with Mr. Gidron concerning the purchase of a building located at 1245 Central Park in Yonkers that housed Gidron’s Cadillac car dealership for a number of years.
“I am very please to have everyone’s support today,” commented Gidron. “I am sure that GM wants and needs the African American business. I have sold over 45,000 cars for GM during the last 30 years so I have been an asset to them, not a liability. Again, we will do whatever necessary to try to bring this to a closure. It was earlier commitments made and not kept that caused this situation. I am sure GM knows that. Hopefully GM will come and sit down with us to bring this situation to a closure. For those unaware of what happened, this is what happened,” explained the entrepreneur. “…there was a fire within the building that housed the dealership and the building burnt down. The building was not insured. GM came to me and said if you renovate the building, we will sell it to you at the discounted price of $2.2 million. I spent over $3.5 million dollars out of my own pocket in renovation, replacing cars, based on this written agreement with GM and then they reneged on selling the building for some legal reasons they claimed. When they reneged on this agreement it caused me to have a financial crisis. Therefore, I am hoping that we can settle this in good faith and in an expeditious manner.”
Mr. Gidron is now suing GM in Federal Court in White Plains for $150 million, charging the giant corporation wrongfully terminated his dealership, wrongfully refused to sell him the dealership property, rejected the sale of the dealership to another dealer and wrongfully pulled out at the last moment on the building sale leaving Gidron holding the bag for nearly $4 million dollars. Monies he spent in expenses and renovations to the building as a result of the June 2000 fire which destroyed the entire service facility of the Cadillac dealership Gidron rented from GM.
Unfortunately for Gidron, GM’s reneging on the sale of the building caused Gidron to lose business while repairs were underway. Unable to generate sufficient income, Gidron eventually fell short on his tax obligations resulting in his having to plead guilty to state tax fraud and thus, forcing him, to serve a year in jail in Buffalo, New York.
Among those supporting Dick Gidron in his pursuit of justice was Rev. Al Sharpton, Reverend Herbert Daughtry, Hazel Dukes Pres. of NYS NAACP, and Reverends Foster, Curtis, and Richardson, et al.
“Dick Gidron was the pioneer black car dealership in this region. For the GM Corporation to have engaged in a practice that undermines his ability to do business has brought about ramifications to this entrepreneur which impacts and speaks to GM’s relationship to this community,” stated Rev. Al Sharpton. “We do not ask for anything but fairness. Had Gidron been treated fairly, we are convinced that Gidron would still have that outlet. This is a pattern by GM all over the country. Therefore, we stand with Dick Gidron. He has always been there for his community, even in days of controversy for him. There are some within the media who want to raise Mr. Gidron’s legal battles but Dick Gidron has paid his debt to society. GM needs to pay their debt to Dick Gidron.”
“What troubles me about GM is that the company appears to be immune to the sensitivity of African Americans. I think it’s important that we launch an economic strike and not buy GM cars. We should let GM know that we are not tolerating their treatment of Dick Gidron or their insensitivity to our community” stated Rev. Curtis. Adding his voice, Reverend Herbert Daughtry remarked, “When GM treats Dick Gidron unfairly, the repercussions can be far reaching all across the country. Therefore, we urge GM to rectify the situation.”
The publisher of Christian Science newspaper issued a challenge to GM stating: “It’s a critical time for GM to look at their business practices in our community. There is clearly a pattern of discrimination. It seems on the part of GM, there is a desire to put some of the black dealers out of business. We just finished fighting a case with another black dealership in the New York City area. We won that case and we are serious about fighting this one as well. We challenge GM to look at the repercussions from this. Dick Gidron has been doing business with GM for over 30 years and sold over 40,000GM vehicles throughout his career. We seek to challenge GM since we believe there are issues and a pattern of discrimination which GM needs to do something about.”
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