CHARLESTON - The owner of a South Charleston Honda dealership is trying to keep American Honda from opening a new franchise in the same area.

Raines Imports, Inc., doing business as Lester Raines Honda, filed a lawsuit July 20 in Kanawha Circuit Court against American Honda.

Raines says he received a letter May 24 from American Honda stating it intended to start a new Honda dealership in the South Charleston area. He adds that he responded with a letter expressing his objection.

Since he has not heard anything back from American Honda, he says he filed the lawsuit seeking a declaration prohibiting American Honda from opening a new dealership.

"Lester Raines made a capital investment in excess of $2 million in order to locate its Honda dealership in South Charleston, and it has enjoyed a good relationship with the people of the Charleston area, including South Charleston, for the past 35 years," the complaint says.

"A new Honda dealership in the South Charleston area would further depress an already struggling motor vehicle market for Hondas in the relevant market area."

Lester Raines Honda is located on MacCorkle Ave. and says the population decline in the South Charleston area is one of its main reasons for trying to block the new dealership.

David Allen Barnette of Jackson Kelly in Charleston is representing Raines.

Judge Charles King has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1422

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