A lawsuit filed by a Ferrari salesman from Palm Beach, Florida, may have aired some of Ferrari's dirty laundry. According to a lawsuit filed in a Southern Florida district court by former salesman Robert "Bud" Root, the ex-employee alleged that New Country Motor Cars of Palm Beach wrongfully terminated the man based on his age and other factors. The lawsuit was first reported by the Daily Mail. The now 71-year-old said in his complaints that he was fired as a scapegoat for the use of a device that rolls back the odometers in Ferraris back to 0.
Motor Authority has located copies of the lawsuits in question, and they make several allegations that could be real problems for New Country Motor Cars of Palm Beach and the Ferrari mothership. They also call into question the value of any used Ferrari on sale since 2010.
According to a complaint filed by Root:
- Ferrari Spa, headquartered in Italy, licenses and markets a device known as a "Deis Tester" to its dealers worldwide.
- The Deis Tester, available since 2010, contains a software program that resets a Ferrari odometer to 0.
- Ferrari Spa, and its affiliate, Ferrari North America, train Ferrari dealer technicians on the use of the Deis Tester, including how to rollback an odometer.
- Ferrari licenses this equipment, administers the passwords and remote log-in authorizations, electronically uploads and tracks functions through the use of the device—including odometer rollbacks—through a remote internet connection, and stores the electronic data.
- Ferrari published a written policy manual dating back to at least 2010 detailing how to perform odometer rollbacks and authorizing the use of the Deis Tester.
- Each time the Deis Tester is used on a Ferrari, authorization is obtained from Ferrari via a wireless network. Vehicle diagnostics and procedures performed are automatically uploaded to a Ferrari database.
Specifically, Root alleges in his lawsuit that the Deis Tester was used on the 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari owned by Sara Lee CEO C. Steven McMillan on or about October 22, 2015, to set the odometer to 0. Root alleges that McMillan paid the technician cash to perform this operation, that Ferrari was aware of it, and that the dealer sought to keep the reset secret to evade potential regulatory and/or criminal consequences and to maintain loyalty from McMillan. Rolling back the miles on McMillan's car could make it worth up to $1 million more.
The complaint goes on to say that a day later another technician advised dealership General Manager Jay Youmans that the procedure was done to McMillan's car. Root then says that Youmans used this opportunity to accuse Root of facilitating the odometer rollback on the LaFerrari and using that as a pretext to fire him when the real reason was his age.
Root has since been rehired by the dealer, but Root claims the dealer has retaliated against him since he resumed his job.
If these accusations are indeed true, it means the mileage of any late-model Ferrari is in question, and any Ferrari that has changed hands as a used car in the last seven years could be subject to a lawsuit.
We reached out to Ferrari for comment and were told, "We do not comment on litigation between a dealer and its employees. This litigation involves third parties with respect to Ferrari North America and the litigation does not involve Ferrari. Ferrari reserves the right to take all appropriate action against any party that has adversely affected its rights."