It was nearly a year ago to the day that we were introduced to the plight of Mark Oberholtzer, the Texas City plumber greeted with the not-so pleasant sight of his old work truck on the evening news being used as an anti-aircraft vehicle for Islamic militants in Syria—with his company’s logo still on it, of course. Oberholtzer is understandably still pissed about how that whole thing went down, so he’s suing the dealership to whom he sold the truck.
Courthouse News Service reports Oberholtzer is seeking “$1 million in punitive damages for fraud, gross negligence, negligent misrepresentation, defamation, invasion of privacy and deceptive trade” against AutoNation Ford Gulf Freeway, the dealership where he unloaded his old Ford F-250 work truck in October 2013.
Why sue the dealership? It’s over the decal with his business logo on it, the news service reports:
He traded in his Ford pickup to AutoNation Ford Gulf Freeway in October 2013 for a newer model, and as he waited for the deal to close he started peeling the “Mark-1 Plumbing” stickers off the truck, he says in a Wednesday lawsuit in Harris County Court.
A salesman told him to stop, because it “would blemish the vehicle paint” and “the dealership had something better for removal,” Oberholtzer says in the complaint.
Then in December of last year, a tweet by the militant group Ansar al-Deen started making the rounds that showed a truck shooting shit out of the sky—Oberholtzer’s old truck, with his Mark-1 Plumbing logo still on it.
In the lawsuit Oberholtzer says the photo, and the subsequent viral story around it, ruined his life and his business. Due to angry calls and death threats, he and his family had to flee their town for some time, and they still receive threats today from angry people who believe Mark-1 Plumbing aids and abets terror groups.
The lawsuit says the truck was sold at a Dallas auction, then sent back to Houston to be shipped to Turkey, and it somehow later ended up in Syria, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The AutoNation dealership has yet to respond to requests for comment from media outlets. Are they directly aiding Islamic militants in Syria? Probably not, but as with those Toyota trucks that keep ended up in the hands of ISIS, it just goes to show how a globalized marketplace can have some very unintended consequences.
Do you know what your old pickup truck is up to these days?
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