Lake Norman Dodge and Wilburn Autobody Totaled my Dodge Viper

My name is Keith Turner. In September of 2006 after years of saving up as much money as I could, I was finally able to buy my dream car. I bought a 2004 Black Dodge Viper. My wife Crystal and I joined the Viper Club of America and the Viper Club quickly became family for us. We frequently went on cruises, went to events, participated in races, and often went to dinner with Viper Club members. In 2007 during a competition the motor in my Viper failed and caught fire. The engine was still under warranty so Dodge gave me a new engine. I took the opportunity to have upgrades added to the engine and spent just under $40,000 in modifications to set the engine up to withstand over 1000 horsepower and for suspension upgrades.
My wife and I drove our Viper every weekend and participated in car shows throughout the Charlotte area. But on July 8th of this year all that came to an end.
On July 5th I took my Viper to Lake Norman Dodge in Cornelius, NC for an oil change, fix my air conditioner, and to install a new Generation 4 hood on my Viper. I told the service technician at Lake Norman Dodge that the Viper was highly modified and had expensive B elanger headers, a competition coupe cam, and a built engine, and made over 650 horsepower. I told them to be very careful with the car and that I would be checking the odometer when I returned to pick the Viper up. My Viper technician, Chuck Tator of New York, who also happens to have owned the oldest Dodge Dealership in America, called Lake Norman Dodge and told the Service Manager that there was no reason to take the Viper to a body shop. The hood install was simple, the hood was already painted and polished and all they had to do was simply remove the old hood and bolt the new hood in place. Lake Norman Dodge ignored Chuck Tators advice.
On July 8th, sometime in the morning, I got a call from the general manager at Wilburn Autobody on 20440 Chartown Dr., Cornelius, NC saying that there had been an incident with my Viper. I asked her exactly what kind of incident? She said, “Our employee was driving your Viper and there was an accident. We are really very sorry about this.” I asked the general manager how bad was my car damaged, but she would not go into the details. She wanted to know when I could come down to the body shop.
I went down to the body shop and they were all very apologetic. I looked at the Viper and immediately knew that the Wilburn Automotivebody employee that was driving my Viper was hot rodding in my Viper. The impact of the crash took out two trees and bent the frame of the Viper and caused extensive damage. I also noticed that they installed the new hood incorrectly and did not use all the hood parts..in fact, they didn’t even know there were supposed to use more parts to install the hood correctly. But Wilburn Automotive never called me to ask me for information on proper installation of the new hood. They simply installed the hood incorrectly then crashed the Viper while hot rodding my Viper when returning it to Lake Norman Dodge.
The police report indicated that the employee of Lake Norman Dodge, Adam Christopher Jones, was speeding, doing 45 in a 35 at the time he lost control of my Viper. However, Jeff Brewer, the manager of Scotts Autobody in Charlotte said Adam Jones was driving in excess of 70 mph when he lost control of the Viper…more than twice the legal speed limit. Scotts Autobody does repairs on Ferrari’s ,Vipers, Lamborghini’s, Aston Martins, etc. Scotts Autobody has my Viper now and are considered one of the best body shops in the nation for exotic cars. An employee of Lake Norman Dodge published in a blog that the Wilburn Autobody employee, Adam Christopher Jones, had “slammed on the gas” and lost control of my Viper.
I set up a meeting with Jack Salzman, owner of Lake Norman Dodge to discuss the accident and find out what was his intention to make this situation right. I informed Jack I paid $70,000 for my Viper and that I had close to $40,000 in upgrades to the Viper. Mr. Salzman informed me that he was actually an attorney and that he had never been sued . He said he believed in doing the right thing when dealing with people. But he closed the meeting by saying he was going to do what the insurance company recommended. I informed Jack that that would not work. I told Jack that I still owed $60,000 for the Viper and that I had close to $40,000 invested in upgrades on my Viper. I informed Jack Salzman that all the insurance company was going to do was either attempt to repair the Viper or give me a check for what a used Viper with that mileage is worth. I said that resolution was unacceptable because I dropped off my Viper to Lake Norman Dodge on July 5th, a Dodge Viper that would cost me $96,000 to replace. Against my Viper technicians advice, you took my Viper to Wilburn Automotive…who subsequently put the new hood on incorrectly and then crashed my Viper and totaled it while doing almost double the speed limit.
After a month of going back and forth with Wilburn Autobody and Lake Norman Dodge, both companies have come to the conclusion that they are not going to replace my Viper, they refuse to repair my Viper, and they refuse to compensate me so that I can replace my Viper. I have no idea how people like this can be in business or stay in business. We are now headed to court.
Cooper Faassen owns Wilburn Autobody. You would think that Mr. Faassen would have done the right thing after his employee crashed and totaled my Viper; Mr. Faassen could have, and should have protected his client, Lake Norman Dodge from bad prerss and from a seroius lawsuit by simply replacing my Viper or properly compensating me for it. Mr. Faassen did neither. And as a result I must now sue both Wilburn Autobody and Jack Salzman of Lake Normand Dodge.

These people crashed and totaled my Viper, and basically told me, “I’m sorry, and you can go to hell.” Be careful if you have dealings with these two businesses, for if your drop off your vehicle at either Lake Norman Dodge or Wilburn Autobody, it may very well be the last time you drive your vehicle or see your vehicle again….and you better have a bank full of money, because these two businesses have no intention of being accountable for their actions.

Keith Turner

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