Nissan Altima

The owners of a group of Los Angeles-area auto dealerships must pay Franklin-based Nissan North America after a Davidson County jury ruled the dealers had committed fraud related to manufacturer warranties.

The seven-person jury issued the ruling early this month after a three-week trial in the business court housed within the Davidson County Chancery Court. The jury agreed with Nissan's claim that the dealers had bilked Nissan by making fake or unnecessary warranty claims.

The ruling named several entities and individuals, including three brothers, associated with Sage Automotive Group in California. The business previously settled a consumer fraud case with the Federal Trade Commission for $3.6 million.

The three brothers, one of them since deceased, have for years been litigating among themselves as they seek to dissolve their business interests.

“Nissan takes dealer warranty fraud very seriously, as it harms our customers, the company and other dealers,” Nissan spokesperson Brian Brockman said. “We will take appropriate steps to investigate fraud, and will pursue legal action against those responsible as we did in this case. We are grateful to the jury for their time and hard work during the trial. We are hopeful that decisions like this can help deter others from committing warranty fraud in the future.”

Brentwood attorney Gino Bulso was among the legal team representing Nissan in the case.

“We were fortunate to have such a hard-working and courageous jury in a case of this size and complexity,” he said. “These jurors, over the course of three days of deliberations, waded through four weeks of testimony and 129 trial exhibits to arrive at a verdict that both compensated Nissan for its losses and took a bold stand against fraud in the automotive industry.”

The court is still considering awarding legal fees and other costs.

Nashville attorney Byron Trauger and partners represented one of the three brothers in the Tennessee litigation. He and other defendants in the case either did not comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

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