Indian-American Sues New Jersey Car Dealer for $1.26 Million for Not Selling Him Mercedes Benz

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Surjeet Bassi next to the Mercedes he had hoped to replace with a new one from Prestige Motors in Paramus. (Photo courtesy of Elaine A. Ruxton | Times Herald-Record) and NJ.com.

PARAMUS – A man of Indian-origin in New Jersey has sued a luxury car dealership, claiming a manager at Prestige Motors refused to sell him a Mercedes Benz because the manager thought the buyer was linked to the Taliban, NJ.Com reported.

Surjeet Bassi, 50, claims the manager told him that he came from a “high-risk area” where people buy cars and export them to the Taliban, according to the news portal.

Surjeet Bassi next to the Mercedes he had hoped to replace with a new one from Prestige Motors in Paramus. (Photo courtesy of Elaine A. Ruxton | Times Herald-Record)  and NJ.com.
Surjeet Bassi next to the Mercedes he had hoped to replace with a new one from Prestige Motors in Paramus. (Photo courtesy of Elaine A. Ruxton | Times Herald-Record) and NJ.com.

“Bassi, who has lived in New Jersey for 30 years, said he told the manager he is Indian and not connected to the Islamic fundamentalist and terrorist organization, according to the suit,” NJ.com reported.

“Prestige Mercedes Benz values its relationships with customers and prospective customers,” spokeswoman Theresa V. Boylan said in a statement as reported by NJ.com. “As a company, we do not condone discriminatory practices or conduct. Out of respect for the process and all parties, it is our policy not to comment on pending legal matters.”

NJ.com reported that Bassi told the news portal that he wanted to trade his Mercedes-Benz ML350 for a newer model. He claims he spent several hours negotiating the price with a salesman, passed a credit check, charged $1,000 to his Mastercard for a down payment and called his insurance company to adjust his policy. But that’s when a Prestige manager called Bassi into his office, according to the lawsuit.

“He said, ‘I’m sorry I can’t sell you the car,’ and then explained why,” Bassi told recordonline.com as reported by NJ.com.

Bassi is suing the car dealer for $1.26 million, according to NJ.com. The lawsuit claims “racial stereotyping, premised on plaintiff’s race and appearance” and alleges the “same behavior would never have been engaged in had plaintiff been a white citizen of the United States.”

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