Lexus Dealer Still on a Legal Hook

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge refused to dismiss all claims in a class action accusing a California Lexus dealership of payroll fraud, death threats and workplace violence.
     Lead plaintiff Robert Brock Jr., six other employees and two of their wives sued Concord Automobile Dealership, Lexus of Concord and Toyota Motor Sales in April 2014.
     Also named as defendants were dealership owner Hank Torian, general sales manager Patrick Miliano and general manager Greg James.
     The plaintiffs claimed that Miliano filed false bonus forms in their names, then pocketed the extra cash – stealing from them and increasing their tax liabilities.
     They claimed that Miliano used racial slurs in profusion, brought deadly weapons to work and threatened them with violence.
     Brock claimed that after he told the dealership’s general manager about the payroll fraud, Miliano threatened to kill him and his family.
     U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam on Monday refused to dismiss most of the claims, except for claims of fraud and conversion in the bonus program.
     He upheld Miliano and the dealership’s argument that the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint failed to allege that Miliano misrepresented the bonuses, that two of the plaintiffs were not even eligible for bonuses, and that the complaint contains no allegation that a plaintiff “relied on a misrepresentation to their detriment.”
     He also agreed with the defendants that the plaintiffs did not identify the amount of money Miliano allegedly stole, so there is no “identifiable sum” on which a conversion claim can be based, and that the plaintiffs’ increased tax liability is not in any of the defendants’ possession.
     Gilliam recommended that the claims be amended with supporting facts for each individual plaintiff.
     He gave Brock et al. 21 days to file a third amended complaint.
     Neither side could be reached for comment Wednesday.
     The plaintiffs are represented by Charles Bonner, of Sausalito.
     The defendants are represented by David Sidran, with Toschi Sidran in Pleasanton.

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