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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Violence Claims Stand|Against Auto Dealer

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge dismissed some but not all claims in a class action accusing a California Lexus dealership of payroll fraud, death threats and workplace violence.

Robert Brock Jr., six other employees and two of their wives sued Concord Automobile Dealership and Lexus of Concord in April 2014.

Also sued 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 Miliano used racial slurs in profusion, brought deadly weapons to work and threatened them with violence.

Brock claimed that after he told the general manager about the payroll fraud, Miliano threatened to kill him and his family.

On March 3, U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. dismissed the fraud claims against Miliano, finding the complaint does not allege that any of the plaintiffs relied on a statement "made by Miliano" to their detriment, but he let those claims stand against the dealerships.

Gilliam refused to dismiss conversion claims against the dealership, and refused to dismiss the conversion claims against Miliano with respect to three plaintiffs.

He found the assault claim against Miliano barred by the two-year statute of limitations, and dismissed the claim on those grounds.

But Gilliam allowed most of the workplace violence claims to proceed, finding that much of Miliano's alleged behavior was claimed to stem from race and gender discrimination.

Gilliam dismissed one plaintiff's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress as time-barred, but let that claim stand for plaintiff Christopher Montoya, who alleged that Miliano threatened him with death, told him about deadly weapons he owned and taunted him with racist insults "on a daily basis for six months."

The parties will reconvene for a case management conference on March 15.

Neither side's lead counsel immediately responded to an email requesting comment on Friday.

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