Ackridge Automotive Closes Doors, In Court

“Ackridge Automotive on Church Hill Road suddenly closed its doors in late August. According to court documents filed in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court, Judge Thomas Ross issued a temporary injunction August 28 to prevent William Ackridge III and employees of Ackridge Automotive Group, LLC from selling cars and trucks or being on the property. In a June interview, Ackridge, 51, said he planned to renovate the facade and break ground in August for a 10,000-square-foot addition and said “”we will be the biggest, newest store on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.”” The new dealership was to include an overnight service center for all car and truck makes and models. At the time, Ackridge said he would add 35 new jobs to the 15 already there and run a “”fast-paced operation.””

Haak Motors, LLC and Seahawk, LLC sued Ackridge Automotive Group, LLC and William Ackridge III for $4-million in compensatory damages and $5-million in punitive damages. Haak Motors owns the Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership, and Seahawk owns the real estate. Cristina Landskroener, attorney at the Saunders Law Office in Chestertown, said the judge left the injunction in place after a hearing last week. In a notarized statement dated August 28, Lloyd Haak said settlement was July 24. According to the court documents, Ackridge showed Haak a checking account statement with $4,570,000 in a business checking account automatic renewal Certificate of Deposit statement worth $4,250,000.

At settlement, Haak gave Ackridge an interim management agreement to use existing business licenses until Ackridge obtained his own. Haak’s deposition said, “”Defendants represented that funds for the transaction had been wired to the escrow account designated … and provided a wire transfer number.”” The funds did not go through. The buyer’s explanation was that his investors had pulled out, and Ackridge then offered real estate as collateral; however, the real estate is in foreclosure.

Reached last week for comment, Ackridge said the reason the sale did not go through is that “”the deal started at $3.2-million, and the numbers kept going up. We can’t afford to spend $5-million on a business worth $2-million.”” During the month Ackridge was in business, he sold about 150 cars worth $6-million. He has “”156 customers who need titles,”” and he has the money to take care of them. “”Chrysler is holding the titles hostage,”” Ackridge alleges. He said legal action by Wilmington Trust Co. allegedly contributed to the title problem. Despite having the money to take care of the title work, he said, “”We can’t get into the building to grab the titles and finish the paperwork. They are Ackridge customers. …We need to take care of these customers.””

The filing also said Ackridge “”voluntarily surrendered the franchise to Chrysler Corporation.”” A phone call to Chrysler Corporation media relations was not returned by press time. In a deposition from Robert Arangio, lawyer representing Haak Motors, LLC and Seahawk, LLC, Ackridge’s attorney is identified as Allan Taylor. His contact information could not be readily obtained.