Gilbert Auto files for Chapter 11 protection


COLLEGE PLACE — A local auto dealer beset by lawsuits is seeking Chapter 11 protection.

The Gilbert Auto Group’s dealerships, which are owned by Mark W. Gilbert, filed the action Wednesday in U.S. District Court. The filing covers Gilbert’s dealerships in College Place, Walla Walla and Moses Lake, Wash., as well as dealerships in Pendleton and Moscow, Idaho.

According to Jillian Henze, Gilbert’s public relations spokeswoman, none of the dealerships will close and no employees will lose their jobs. “Operations at the dealerships will continue as normal,” Gilbert said in a statement.

Gilbert said he anticipated the reorganization process will be completed within 90 to 120 days.

The move to seek Chapter 11 protection came on the same day attorneys for American Honda Financing Corp. were in federal court to argue for increasing restrictions on Gilbert’s Honda dealership in College Place.

The business is under a temporary restraining order issued on Feb. 22 by U.S. District Court Judge Edward F. Shea in response to a lawsuit filed by the Honda corporation over alleged violations by Gilbert of construction loan and wholesale financing agreements.

In regard to the lawsuit by American Honda, Gilbert said in an emailed statement today “All other hearings are now moot as the protection order will supersede any other court action.”

The state Attorney General’s office has also filed suit against Gilbert and several of his dealerships for alleged violations of the state’s auto dealer and consumer protection laws requiring prompt payoff of customers’ trade-in vehicles.

Acting on a motion for an agreed order, Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram on March 1 granted a preliminary injunction that ordered Gilbert’s businesses to comply with state consumer protection laws as well as provide a list to the attorney general’s office of each vehicle received from a consumer in which the holder of a security interest has not been paid in full.

Lawsuits have also been filed by Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation concerning Gilbert’s Moses Lake dealership, by Ford Motor Credit Co. concerning the Moscow, Idaho, dealership, by Sallee Chevrolet of Oregon over the now-closed Milton-Freewater Chevrolet dealership and by Honda dealerships in Burien and Renton, Wash., concerning failure to pay for vehicles purchased by Gilbert Honda in dealer trades.

Statement from Mark Gilbert

The following is the complete text of the statement issued Wednesday by Gilbert Auto Group owner Mark Gilbert through a public relations agency:

In an effort to reorient the Gilbert Auto Group’s dealerships, the company took real steps on Wednesday by filing for Chapter 11 restructuring.

The auto group has been in business for 11 years with dealerships in Walla Walla, College Place, Moses Lake, Moscow, Idaho and Pendleton, Ore.

No dealerships will be closing their doors, nor will any employees lose their jobs. Operations at the dealerships will continue as normal, said owner Mark Gilbert.

By choosing this route, Gilbert Auto will take this opportunity to reorganize its businesses.

“All Gilbert Auto dealerships will remain open and ready to do business,” Gilbert said. “We still have the ability to offer exceptional values to the consumer during the time we are restructuring.”

Gilbert said he anticipates the reorganization process will be completed within 90 to 120 days, just like the short-term restructuring of GM and Chrysler. He believes his company’s choice will be a step toward a bright future.

Gilbert Auto Group’s commitment to its employees and pride and support of community programs will not fall to the wayside during this time, he added.

“Our commitment to our community partners, sponsorships and supported programs will continue uninterrupted and we expect to remain heavily invested in our local economy,” Gilbert said.



oldguyonabike says...

How does this effect the finances of the Myra Rd. lowering project?

Posted 14 March 2013, 11:24 a.m. Suggest removal

zerocat says...

This looser car dealership has been scamming people out of Gap insurance for years i was one victim and see now he's ("Mark Gilbert" and the king pin of SCAMS "Noe Longoria") scamming again. Why would anyone wanna buy from this scam artists backed by the morman church.. Always out to screw anyone. Chapter 11 is going to keep his scams going so he can pay the tab from earlier scams. Its a shame dealerships like this give all dealership bad names.

Myra rd issue is another waist of time.

Posted 14 March 2013, 12:57 p.m. Suggest removal

mytwocents says...

Dang zerocat. Where did you learn to spell?..
Honestly I hope this Mark Gilbert is pressured right out of business...KARMA is gonna is going bite him in the ass.

Posted 14 March 2013, 2:24 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Mark Gilbert is a good man, who is obviously doing his best to make a difficult situation work. Sometimes businesses don't go the way we plan. That doesn't make us bad people. I wish him well and hope for his sake, and for his employees, that he is able to work his way through this.

Posted 14 March 2013, 8:17 p.m. Suggest removal

carcrazy says...

Mark Gilbert created this situation, he has been a crooked car dealer since he started business in the Walla Walla valley and must have learned his craft well before he came here. I was beginning to think that fatherof5 was in fact Mark Glbert, but now I'm not so sure. How you can defend him is beyond me, but then again, your views on other issues are nonsensical. I see some prison time in Mark Gilberts future.

Posted 14 March 2013, 8:27 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

I have known him as an acquaintance outside of his car business and found him to be a good and decent man. That is my only experience with him, so I'm not going to crucify him in the newspaper without knowing what went on behind the scenes. I understand how bills and business can get out of hand, sometimes even for people who are of good character.

Posted 15 March 2013, 4:17 p.m. Suggest removal

wallyworldguy says...

mark took trade-ins and did not pay off the loans on them, knowing full well it would fall back on the people holding the loans and damage their credit. good man--I think not. Just a con man.

Posted 14 March 2013, 8:35 p.m. Suggest removal

wwnative says...

This is just another example of a typical car dealer. He will scam as many people and organizations as possible, screw up people's lives and use the bankruptcy system to his own ends. In the meantime, he'll squirrel away as many assets in other families members names, go out of business, and ruin the lives of the people who count on him for their livelihoods. He probably has a huge chunk of money in the same offshore accounts as Mittens Romney. He'll then bail out with his golden parachute, and thumb his noses (the one on both faces) while the Hindenburg flies on with the passengers all holding on to the proverbial bag. Good job, Markie.

Posted 14 March 2013, 11:09 p.m. Suggest removal

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