Vehicles line the parking lot of Snowy Range Dodge on Pierce Street earlier this year before the dealership was sold to Johnson Auto.

A defunct Laramie car dealership, Snowy Range Dodge, has filed a lawsuit against Nissan, which has claimed the Laramie dealership has about $6.8 million in unpaid debt.

In October, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against Snowy Range Dodge, barring owner Josh Griffin from “encumbering, transferring, spending, removing, or otherwise disposing of, damaging, altering, or impairing, account funds, whether in the form of a check, withdrawal, transfer or otherwise, without the written consent of (Nissan) or until further order of this court.”

However, JAG Auto now claims Nissan owes the Laramie dealership more money than JAG Auto owes.

The dealership’s owner, JAG Auto, is alleged to have sold Nissan vehicles without paying the car manufacturer for the product.

Griffin’s business is now represented by Laramie attorney Phil Nicholas, who’s now filed a counter-lawsuit against Nissan in Albany County’s district court.

JAG Auto now seeks to deposit remaining account funds with Albany County’s Clerk of District Court until the case is resolved.

Griffin contends that his default on loans under his “floor plan financing” agreement, which allowed JAG Auto to acquire an inventory of new and used vehicles without pre-paying for them, came only because of Nissan’s “breach of contract and breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing.”

With Nissan’s permission, Griffin’s substantially increased Snowy Range Dodge’s used car inventory in Laramie about a year ago. However, Nicholas said that Nissan then quickly demanded that JAG Auto liquidate its recently purchased vehicles at auction at below-wholesale prices.

“Plaintiff knew that when it demanded Defendant to sell its recently acquired inventory under liquidation terms, that there would not be sufficient funds to pay off the ‘trust’ value of its cars,” Nicholas wrote in a court filing. “Had NMAC not engaged in prior bad acts, JAG-Laramie would have either continued to service its loans, or paid them off in full.”

The court filings claim that Nissan forced the sale of Snowy Range Dodge and then impeded the sale, causing losses.

The delayed sale caused losses exceeding $100,000 from uninsured hail damage this year.

U.S. District Court Judge Kelly Rankin also gave Nicholas permission Nov. 22 to file a counterclaim.

After the lawsuit began, the Pierce Street dealership was sold to a Colorado company in July and now operates as Johnson Auto of Laramie. Johnson Auto’s operations are unaffected by Griffin’s ongoing dispute with Nissan.

Nissan and the car dealership entered into a financing agreement in May 2017, and Nissan then discovered in late 2018 the car dealership “failed to keep its working capital and net cash at or above guidelines” established by Nissan.

After Johnson Auto bought the business, manager Matt Boone said the new dealership wants to establish a “good, long-term business” that’s respected in the community. Johnson Auto is the sponsor of Friday’s Tree Lighting and Holiday Parade in Laramie.

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