A foreign car parts dealer was awarded $7 million by a federal court jury in an antitrust case he brought against the makers and distributors of Mercedes Benz automobiles.
Carl Schwartz of Metrix Warehouse Inc. was awarded the money Monday in U.S. District Court as a result of the suit his company brought against Daimler Benz Ag., the West German manufacturer of the luxury automobiles, and its subsidiary, Mercedes Benz of North America Inc.
Schwartz orginally sought $2.33 million in lost profits from the Benz companies when Metrix instituted the suit in 1979. The money increased to its present amount because damages are tripled in antitrust cases.
The suit accused the Benz companies of putting pressure on Metrix and other dealers since 1969 not to buy spare parts for the cars from anyone but Mercedes Benz.
Mercedes dealers had to buy spare parts along with the automobiles, causing Mercedes Benz's market in parts sales to steadily increase at the dealers' expense, the suit claimed.
Because of the Mercedes arrangement, Metrix suffered $2.33 million in lost profits from 1977 to 1983, based on estimated sales of $12.77 million, the suit charged.
Metrix originally sought an injunction against Mercedes Benz, accusing it of reducing the market share of independents by more than 10 percent from 1978 to 1983.
Mercedes Benz had filed a $2.37 million countersuit against Metrix, charging it with a "sneaky, underhanded incentive scheme to bribe" parts managers to buy only from Metrix, but the jury rejected the charge.
Mercedes Benz will appeal the decision, said Paul Walter, attorney for the companies.
Baltimore's U.S. District Court was selected to hear the suit by the Technical Learning Collective Inc., an independent Washington garage that was the original plaintiff in the suit. Daimler Benz has shipped many cars through the port of Baltimore, and Mercedes Benz has a main parts depot and office there.
Separate suits by Metrix and TLC were consolidated, but TLC reached an out-of-court settlement. Only Metrix's case went to trial.