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Feds seize Linglong booth at SEMA Show

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LAS VEGAS—Federal marshals seized the display booth of Chinese tire maker Shandong Linglong Tyre Co. Ltd. at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, claiming its contents as partial repayment of a $26 million court judgment against the company.

Jordan Fishman, CEO of Sarasota, Fla.-based Tire Engineering & Distribution L.L.C., contacted the federal government and requested the Oct. 29 seizure. This was Mr. Fishman's first attempt to collect on the judgment against Shandong Linglong and Dubai-based tire distributor Al-Dobowi Tyres Co. L.L.C.

In a suit filed in October 2009 before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, Va., Mr. Fishman accused Shandong Linglong and Al-Dobowi of conspiring with a former associate of Mr. Fishman's to steal Mr. Fishman's proprietary designs for underground mining tires.

The jury in the Alexandria court ruled in Mr. Fishman's favor on all counts in July 2010 and levied the $26 million in damages. Shandong Linglong appealed, but a federal appeals court affirmed the lower court decision in June 2012.

Before the raid, Shandong Linglong had not paid Mr. Fishman a penny of the judgment, according to August J. Matteis, Mr. Fishman's attorney and a partner in the Washington law firm of Weisbrod Matteis & Copley P.L.L.C.

“They're taking the position that if we want the money, we have to come get it,” Mr. Matteis told Tire Business.

The value of the booth and its contents—including tires, a computer and the booth itself—is not significant, Mr. Fishman said. But the raid was important in making a point, he said.

“This is my way of telling them, 'You don't understand that you're not going to get away with this,'” Mr. Fishman told Tire Business. “'This is the United States, not China.'”

R. Edward (Ted) Cruz, attorney for Shandong Linglong, did not return calls from Tire Business seeking comment on the matter. Mr. Cruz, as of Nov. 6, is the newly elected U.S. senator from Texas.

When Mr. Fishman first confronted Shandong Linglong executives in 2005 about the theft of his designs, they laughed in his face.

“They told me seven years ago that I was too old and not rich enough to beat them—that I would die before seeing a penny,” he said. “Well, I'm still here, and I'm about to see my first penny from them. But I won't stop until I get every penny from these thieves.”

The booth's contents will be sold at a sheriffs' auction, Mr. Matteis said.
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