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New Automotive Scandal Brews. This Time For Ferrari

Despite improvements in automotive reliability, performance, and efficiency, scandals seem to stick around and rear its ugly head every now and then. This time the scandal involves the illustrious and hyper exclusive Ferrari brand.

The Daily Mail obtained this story from a lawsuit that they’ve exclusively obtained, where a veteran Ferrari salesman Robert Root sues the Ferrari dealership in Palm Beach, Florida for firing him after he found out about “The Deis Tester.” The tester device seen here is a diagnostic tool for the ECU’s of modern Ferrari vehicles, which reportedly can rollback the odometer, once given a “blessing” from the Ferrari headquarters. The story behind the firing and the lawsuit involves a long tale of politics, lies and accusations, but it boils down to these series of events:

  1. Robert ‘Bud’ Root has worked for Ferrari dealerships over 22 years
  2. Root was recruited by Ferrari of Palm Beach in 2009.
  3. Root mentioned to Steven McMillan, retired Sara Lee CEO, the capability of the Deis Tester in passing, warning him of cars with very low mileage. (The Deis Tester requires authorization from Ferrari corporate via wireless network connection)
  4. McMillan used this information to convince a mechanic to perform the rollback in exchange for “off-the-books” payment.
  5. McMillan brought the car for servicing and the dealer’s mechanics noticed potential tampering due to the very low miles.
  6. The mechanics confronted McMillan, who then blamed Root.
  7. In January 2016, Root was fired despite after just selling a car for $1.4 million, a record for that dealership, and having sold $2 million worth of cars in 2015
  8. Root was fired for “egregious violation of business ethics” for allegedly aiding in the rollback of McMillan’s Ferrari.
  9. Root was replaced by a 32 year old woman, Noelle Miskulin, who had no car sales experience, and reportedly the General Manager’s mistress, now wife.
  10. Root files an age discrimination lawsuit against the dealership.
  11. Root files a separate lawsuit against McMillan personally.

If the allegations are true, there may be a lot of Ferrari cars floating around lying about their age. It also means the deceptive practice goes all the way to the top, as Ferrari corporate must “green-light” the operation, allowing “well-heeled” owners to resell their Ferraris at more premium prices. In the suit, Root claims McMillan saw his LaFerrari jump up in price by $1 million after the odometer was allegedly reset back to zero. David Brodie, Root’s attorney mentions:

“Mr. Root was falsely and deliberately implicated in one instance of what could turn out to be, numerous, other illegal rollbacks of odometers on Ferraris. And Mr. Root was maliciously defamed by those involved.

The development, distribution and licensing of a device which authorizes and empowers Ferrari dealerships and technicians to perform illegal odometer rollbacks on Ferrari vehicles is patently irresponsible and brings into question the legitimacy of Ferrari odometer readings worldwide.”

(Source: The Daily Mail)

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About Hansen

The engineer amongst the crew, Hansen once built a mini baja car with his bare hands. Hansen had the opportunity to join Honda’s R&D team in Ohio but chose the life of the east coast and the defense industry instead. A die hard auto enthusiast he religiously follows the auto industry and loves long walks in the auto shows.

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