Lordstown Ordered to Face Trial Despite Bankruptcy

Karma Automotive Says Employees, Trade Secrets Were Poached
Lordstown Motors' Endurance pickup truck
Lordstown Motors' Endurance electric pickup truck. (Bloomberg News)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

A Delaware bankruptcy judge said she’s worried Lordstown Motors Corp. was attempting to sell itself in Chapter 11 before a rival electric vehicle maker can take it to trial over allegations Lordstown stole designs and technology to develop its flagship vehicle, the Endurance electric truck.

Judge Mary Walrath on July 27 permitted rival vehicle maker Karma Automotive to move forward with an upcoming trial in California against Lordstown. The outcome of the trial will determine which company owns assets related to the Endurance that are being marketed to potential buyers, she said.

Walrath also said she worried that the investment bank Lordstown retained to help sell its assets, Jefferies LLC, wasn’t informing potential bidders about the ownership dispute with Karma. Lordstown did mention the Karma litigation in papers it submitted to the court when it filed Chapter 11 in June, and lawyers said during the July 27 hearing that the dispute has been mentioned in Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

The result of the trial will determine what assets Lordstown is able to sell in Chapter 11 and could dictate if the startup is able to survive bankruptcy, Walrath said.

“This is deciding what the debtor owns and does not own,” Walrath said.

The ruling is a setback to Lordstown, which filed for bankruptcy in June in order to conduct a quick sale of its assets. Karma filed the lawsuit in 2020, accusing Lordstown of poaching key employees and lifting trade secrets to speed up its development of the Endurance. Karma seeks $913.2 million in damages, plus fees, costs and additional penalties.

Lordstown has denied liability and said it spent millions of dollars to independently develop designs and technology for the Endurance, or used other sources that didn’t involve Karma. The bankrupt electric vehicle startup argued that the Karma lawsuit should be paused so that it could pursue a sale in Chapter 11, which generally gives companies a respite from costly litigation.


How effective have third-party services proved to be for fleets? Let's find out with Michael Precia of Fleetworthy Solutions and Dan Rutherford with Summit Virtual CFO by Anders. Tune in above or by going to RoadSigns.ttnews.com.  

Lordstown said allowing Karma to move ahead with the trial could impede its ability to sell its business as a going concern. But the outcome of the trial and determination on which company owns specific assets could dictate if Lordstown gets any bids for its assets, Walrath said.

A verdict should be reached sometime in September, Walrath said.

Jefferies didn’t immediately respond to a message sent after the hearing seeking comment on Walrath’s concerns about the sale process.

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing below or go here for more info: