Fiat Chrysler's Reid Bigland Files Lawsuit Against… Fiat Chrysler

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
fiat chrysler s reid bigland files lawsuit against fiat chrysler

There’s drama in Auburn Hills tonight. And, by the sounds of it, for many days leading up to this point. Reid Bigland, Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. sales boss and the appropriately imposing head of the cash-cow Ram brand, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against his employer.

Bigland, who joined Chrysler in 2006 and soon found himself heading up Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Dodge, plus serving as CEO of FCA Canada (a role he maintains), claims the company’s HQ is awash in bad blood. The exec says he’s being punished for not taking the fall in a federal investigation into FCA’s sales reporting.

The suit, filed Wednesday, alleges FCA brass retaliated against Bigland after he cooperated with the probe, The Detroit News reports. It goes on to say that Bigland’s pay fell by more than 90 percent after he declined to admit wrongdoing, arguing last year that he had inherited the company’s sales reporting practices.

The Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation in 2016 after two Illinois FCA dealers hit the company with a racketeering lawsuit, claiming they were offered cash in return for falsely inflating their sales figures. The practice of counting certain unsold vehicles as sales forced FCA to recount and re-report its past sales volumes.

The SEC’s investigation continued.

Bigland claims, per the lawsuit, that he told investigators FCA’s sales reporting methodology existed long before his time as sales chief. Former CEO Sergio Marchionne knew about it, he stated. Between taking the position and the time of the investigation, Bigland claims he did nothing to tamper with the reporting apparatus already in place. In the suit, Bigland’s lawyer says the SEC hoped to end the probe with an admission of “some” wrongdoing on her client’s part — an offer Bigland declined. He further detailed the company’s reporting practices in a letter sent to the SEC and FCA late last year.

Apparently, the shit hit the fan blades soon after.

From The Detroit News:

“(Bigland’s) unwillingness to act as a scapegoat for defendants’ 30-year practice which predated him, and his candor regarding defendants’ knowledge of this practice prior to and during his tenure as head of U.S. caused FCA to retaliate against plaintiff less than 2 months later by withholding his compensation,” Bigland’s lawyer wrote.

“His eligibility for incentive compensation — like that of all corporate officers — is subject to a determination by the Board of Directors’ compensation committee that he has satisfied the applicable company and personal performance conditions,” FCA said in an e-mailed statement to The News.

“Mr. Bigland’s eligibility for his award remains subject to that determination and completion of a Board-level evaluation of issues that are the subject to governmental investigations (as previously disclosed by FCA) in which FCA continues to cooperate. Beyond that, it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing litigation or internal compensation processes.”

Knocked down to a base salary in the absence of bonuses (Bigland sold his company shares in 2018, the suit claims, angering FCA officials), the exec remains at odds with his company — and allegedly far less wealthy than before.

Bigland’s lawsuit claims FCA withheld his compensation to pay for future fines levied by the SEC.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Ajla Ajla on Jun 06, 2019

    It sounds like the time for the ascension of Lapo Elkann is upon us!

    • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Jun 12, 2019

      Sounds like the name of a Finnish breed of dog. But then he is a hound dog.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Jun 12, 2019

    "Bigland, who joined Chrysler in 2006 and soon found himself heading up Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Dodge, plus serving as CEO of FCA Canada (a role he maintains), claims the company’s HQ is awash in bad blood. The exec says he’s being punished for not taking the fall in a federal investigation into FCA’s sales reporting." "Soon", in 2006? In 2006, Chrysler was owned by Cerberus, was helmed by "Minimum Bob" Nardelli, and didn't have anything to do with Fiat.

  • Jeff S I don't believe gm will die but that it will continue to shrink in product and market share and it will probably be acquired by a foreign manufacturer. I doubt gm lacks funds as it did in 2008 and that they have more than enough cash at hand but gm will not expand as it did in the past and the emphasis is more on profitability and cutting costs to the bone. Making gm a more attractive takeover target and cut costs at the expense of more desirable and reliable products. At the time of Farago's article I was in favor of the Government bailout more to save jobs and suppliers but today I would not be in favor of the bailout. My opinions on gm have changed since 2008 and 2009 and now I really don't care if gm survives or not.
  • Kwik_Shift I was a GM fan boy until it ended in 2013 when I traded in my Avalanche to go over to Nissan.
  • Stuart de Baker I didn't bother to read this article. I'll wait until a definitive headline comes out, and I'll be surprised if Tesla actually produces the Cybertruck. It certainly looks impractical for both snowy and hot sunny weather.
  • Stuart de Baker This is very interesting information. I was in no danger of buying a Tesla. I love my '08 Civic (stick), and it feels just as responsive as when I bought it 11 years ago with 35k on the clock (now 151k), and barring mishaps, I plan to keep it for the next 25 years or so, which would put me into my mid-90s, assuming I live that long. On your information, I will avoid renting Teslas.
  • RHD The only people who would buy this would be those convinced by a website that they are great, and order one sight-unseen. They would have to have be completely out of touch with every form of media for the last year. There might actually be a few of these people, but not very many. They would also have to be completely ignorant of the Hyundai Excel. (Vinfast seems to make the original Excel look like a Camry in comparison.)