JACKSON — A federal judge is giving attorneys for former New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister and Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. more time to negotiate a settlement in a lawsuit between them over the football star’s failed Jackson auto dealership.
A court filing late yesterday said “because progress was demonstrated” U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Anderson would allow the settlement negotiations to continue until March 20. Anderson had set a Jan. 5 deadline for the parties to reach a deal or continue discovery in the lawsuit.
The dealership closed in 2009 and filed for Chapter 7 liquidation under federal bankruptcy law.
Nissan spokesman Steve Parrett said the company would have no comment on the litigation.
Nissan Motor Acceptance sued McAllister and his company, Deuce McAllister Motors, LLC, in October 2009 in U.S. District Court in Jackson for more than $1.5 million, alleging the dealership defaulted on payments and exceeded credit limits.
In a counter claim, McAllister said Nissan knew he “was a young professional athlete inexperienced in the motor vehicle sales business” and did little to help his dealership succeed.
McAllister, 33, was a football star at the University of Mississippi. He was taken by the Saints in the first round of the NFL draft in 2001 and replaced Ricky Williams as the team’s featured running back. Known for his power running, McAllister achieved stardom in the league but was hampered by knee injuries in the later years of his career. The Saints released him in 2009.
In January 2010, McAllister signed a contract with the Saints to be an honorary captain as the team made a run to the Super Bowl, which it won. He did not play, however.
Off the field, McAllister has invested heavily in his native Mississippi, including new and used-car dealerships and real estate.
In court records, NMAC said it found financial problems with the new-car dealership, Deuce McAllister Nissan, during an audit in 2008 audit. The company said it assigned an on-site monitor and eventually reinstated the dealership’s credit. But, the lawsuit said, while the dealership continued to sell cars, it did not repay NMAC and its debts grew.
The dealership operated in Chapter 11 for a time before agreeing to liquidate its remaining assets through Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Nissan Motor Acceptance sued McAllister in U.S. District Court in Jackson, claiming the dealership defaulted on hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments in 2008 and exceeded its credit limits even more.
In his counter claim, McAllister said that rather than helping, Nissan Motor Acceptance withheld information that the dealership wasn’t likely to be profitable in the area and neglected to warn him that one of his partners had done business with a Nissan-related dealership before and “was unsuitable for the management position.”
As a result of the failed business, McAllister’s counterclaim says he lost money and “incurred damage to his business relationships and reputation, and has suffered mental anguish and anxiety.”
McAllister’s countersuit seeks unspecified damages. His attorney, Joe Roberts, has declined to comment on the settlement talks.