Source: Daily Mail/Twitter
Talk about bad publicity: a Texas plumber is suing a local dealership for a million dollars a year after a pickup truck he traded in ended up the hands of ISIS fighters in Syria.
Mark Oberholtzer, owner of Mark-1 Plumbing in Texas City, is seeking “$1 million in punitive damages for fraud, gross negligence, negligent misrepresentation, defamation, invasion of privacy and deceptive trade” against AutoNation Ford Gulf Freeway, the dealership where he handed over his company’s old work truck in October 2013 in exchange for a newer model, according to the Courthouse News Service.
Mark-1 made headlines in December last year after photographs of its former pickup truck being used by militants in Syria’s civil war went viral. One of the photos showed the truck with the Mark-1’s phone number and logo still visible while a militant fires anti-aircraft gun mounted on the truck bed.
According to Oberholtzer, he traded the truck at an AutoNation branch in Houston and was told the dealership would remove the company’s decals on their own to avoid scratching the paint and lowering the truck’s resale value.
“I really at first thought it was just somebody playing with us,” Oberholtzer said, adding that the company started receiving threats because of the photos.
“By the end of the day, Mark-1’s office, Mark-1’s business phone, and Mark’s personal cell had received over 1,000 phone calls from around the nation,” Oberholtzer’s lawyer wrote in the lawsuit. “These phone calls were in large part harassing and contained countless threats of violence, property harm, injury and even death.”
According to Carfax.com, the truck was tracked from an auction site in Houston to Mersin, Turkey and, finally, somewhere near Aleppo in Syria where it was supposedly acquired by ISIS.
In a statement, AutoNation admitted to have received and processed Oberholtzer’s truck.
“The truck came in on trade and was immediately sent to auction. The auctions in most accounts will prep the vehicles. We have the paperwork that shows the steps the vehicle took,” the company said. “It is unfortunate that the customer has had to go through this.”
Let this be a lesson to anyone who is selling or trading their car: make sure to clean it up first before handing it over. Who knows where it might end up?