Alabama Based "Taliban Toyota" Dealer Awarded $7.5 Million in Damages
Shawn Esfahani, who owns and operates Eastern Shore Toyota in Daphne, Alabama has been awarded some $7.5 million in damages by a state jury, following some rather vicious remarks made about him by a rival dealer.
They center around comments made by the manger of Bob Tyler Toyota, located just across the state line in Pensacola, Florida.
Bob Tyler Toyota manager Fred Kenner reportedly told some of his customers that Esfahani was “un-American” as well as labeling his store “Taliban Toyota,” and accused him of being an Iraqi who was “funneling money back to his family and other terrorists.”
Kenner also stated, in reference to Esfahani that “I have a brother over there [meaning the Middle East] and what you’re doing is helping kill my brother.”
However, the fact that Esfahani was born in Iran, not Iraq and is a naturalized US citizen, seems lost on Kenner. The owner of Eastern Shore Toyota is also a naturalized US citizen who’s lived in the country since 1980, having left his place of birth in the wake of the Iranian revolution when the Shah’s pro-western government was deposed in favor of a radical Islamic regime led by Ayatollah Khomeini. His Toyota store has been in operation since 2007.
Esfahani originally sought some $28 million in damages, but nonetheless was pleased with the verdict. “The feeling I received in the courtroom for the truth to come out was worth a lot more than any money anybody can give me,” he said. He also went on to say that he hopes the verdict will send a message to “any other business that resorts to those kinds of actions to win at their game unfairly.”
[Source: CBS News]