Refiled lawsuit one of many Gilbert legal woes

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WALLA WALLA — The lawsuit College Place refiled against a local auto dealer is one of several currently in play involving Mark W. Gilbert and his companies.

Since the start of the year, at least seven lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts against Gilbert and his dealerships in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

In addition, Gilbert has filed in U.S. District Court for protection under federal bankruptcy laws for protection of his dealerships in Walla Walla and Moses Lake as well as dealerships in Pendleton and Moscow, Idaho.

According to court records and Jillian Henze, Gilbert’s public relations spokeswoman, no similar filings for Chapter 11 protection have been filed for Gilbert Imports, doing business as Gilbert Honda, GA Group Properties and Mark Gilbert and Susan Gilbert.

Under Chapter 11, a business may be protected from creditors while it devises a plan for reorganization.

The Gilberts, GA Group Properties and Gilbert Imports are the defendants in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in February by American Honda Finance Corporation concerning the College Place dealership.

The latest development in that case occurred on April 1 when attorneys for both sides entered an “agreed order” in the case halting litigation for 60 days “to avoid the uncertainties and substantial costs associated with the continued litigation ... and in recognition of the possibility of the purchase and sale of the Gilbert Honda dealership.”

According to a declaration by Gilbert filed by his attorneys last month, a purchase and sale agreement for the College Place dealership is expected to close around the end of this month.

The Honda corporation’s suit is seeking $5.2 million in damages for breach of a construction loan agreement used to build the dealership, plus seizure of collateral.

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