Smithtown Nissan has closed its doors after losing its contract with Nissan amid a yearslong dispute over who owns the franchise.
Nissan North America, Inc. notified Smithtown Nissan in a letter that it would terminate its dealer sales and service agreement around Sept. 22, according to correspondence included in a court case involving several people claiming an ownership stake in the dealership.
Without the corporate contract, the 535 Middle Country Rd. dealership closed in late September, according to John Juliano, an attorney for Thomas Rubio, who has an ownership stake in Smithtown Nissan, according to court filings. The dealership had employed about 100 workers, according to a letter Juliano submitted to the judge.
A Nissan North America spokesman referred Newsday to the letter, which said Smithtown Nissan's ownership disputes and insufficient wholesale financing plan violated the terms of their agreement.
"Nissan provided Smithtown and its owners an extended opportunity to resolve the disputes," the letter said, referencing the dealership's lack of so-called flooring credit lines, which finance inventory. "The loss of a flooring line is the latest example of the adverse effect of the long-standing and ongoing ownership and management disputes," it said.
The disagreements date back to at least 2012, when the franchise’s then-majority owner Joseph Oscar Rubio — father of Thomas Rubio —sought assistance to keep the dealership afloat, court papers show. Joseph Oscar Rubio died in 2014.
A number of individuals have since fought in court about the company's ownership, including: Carmine Dell Aquila, a former Port Jefferson village trustee who lent the dealership money; Craig Fina, a sales manager at the dealership who also lent the business money; Thomas Rubio, and the patriarch's widow, Theresa Rubio, court filings show.