Texas plumber wants $1 million from dealership that sold his truck to jihadists
Mark Oberholtzer, who runs Mark-1 Plumbing in Galveston, Texas, says that Autonation Ford Gulf Freeway, a dealership in Houston, resold his 2005 Ford F-250 pick-up without removing the decal with his company’s name and phone number. After the truck ended up in the hands of a Syrian rebel group, a photo of it showed up on Twitter and was featured on the final episode of Comedy Central’s ‘Colbert Report’.
Colbert joked that Syria “is going down the toilet, but for the first time, they know who to call to unclog it.”
By the end of that day, “Mark-1’s office, Mark-1’s business phone, and Mark’s personal cell phone had received over 1,000 phone calls from around the nation,” ranging from degrading to expletive-laced death threats, according to the lawsuit filed in Harris County by Oberholtzer’s attorneys. Up to 200 calls per day continued to come in over the next three weeks, and the plumber still gets calls to this day, especially after Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) commits an atrocity somewhere, the lawsuit said.
In the complaint, Oberholtzer says the dealership stopped him from removing the decal, claiming that doing so would damage the paint. At no time did anyone at the dealership inform Oberholtzer that they would “leave the decals on the truck, which would be transferred in some fashion to international jihadists conducting warfare upon innocents in Syria,” the lawsuit stated, calling what happened an “incomprehensible and horrific eventuality.”
Noting that the plumber had sold several of his old trucks to dealerships in Texas over the years, the lawsuit goes on to add: “On none of these occasions have any of those dealers transferred to international jihadists the traded-in vehicle with Plaintiffs’ identifying marking still upon them.”
According to Carfax vehicle history reports, attached to the lawsuit as evidence, the truck was sold at an auction on November 11, 2013. It was exported from Houston and ended up in Mersin, a port in southeastern Turkey. On December 15, 2014, a photo of the truck posted on Twitter showed it being used as a weapons platform by a jihadist group in Syria – with the “Mark-1 Plumbing” sign still there.