Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitment and Contingencies

v3.22.2.2
Commitment and Contingencies
9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2022
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingencies COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
General Matters

The Company is party to various negotiations and legal proceedings arising in the normal course of business. The Company provides reserves for these matters when a loss is probable and reasonably estimable. The Company does not disclose a range of potential loss because the likelihood of such a loss is remote. In the opinion of management, the ultimate disposition of these matters will not have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial position, results of operations, cash flows or liquidity.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (“FMVSS”) Certification and Other Regulatory Matters

On September 22, 2021, we announced the Company decided to suspend deliveries of C-1000 vehicles and recall the vehicles we had already delivered to customers. The Company determined additional testing and modifications to existing vehicles are required to bring the C-1000 vehicles into full compliance with FMVSS. The Company further announced that it filed a report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) regarding the need for additional testing and vehicle modifications to bring our C-1000 vehicles into full compliance with FMVSS. We indicated our previous statements related to the C-1000’s compliance with NHTSA standards cannot be relied upon and so notified the Securities and Exchange Commission. We also disclosed we identified a number of enhancements to our production process and the design of the C-1000 vehicles to address customer feedback, primarily related to payload capacity.

The certification testing was completed in February 2022. Upon completion of this review, the C-1000 platform was determined to be eligible for certification and reintroduction as a limited production vehicle with constrained cargo capacity. In 2022, Workhorse decided to repurchase all of the C-1000 vehicles involved in the recall announced in September 2021 instead
of repairing them and so notified NHTSA. Because the Company repurchased all of the C-1000 vehicles involved in the recall, it has no further obligations under the recall.

Due to the uncertainties and many variables involved in NHTSA matters, we cannot estimate the ultimate resolution of this matter and whether it will have a material adverse effect on the Company's financial position, results of operations, cash flows or liquidity. We cooperated with NHTSA with respect to the now-completed recall announced in September 2021. However, we cannot assure that NHTSA or other government authorities will not attempt to impose potentially significant fines and penalties in response to the recall.

On October 19 and November 1, 2021, the Company received letters from the SEC requesting that it voluntarily provide information relating to (a) the events and trading in its securities leading up to the announcement of the award of a contract by the U.S. Postal Service (the “USPS”) for the manufacture of a postal service vehicle fleet and (b) recognition of revenue, if any, related to purchases of vehicles by certain of the Company’s customers. On November 5, 2021, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) orally informed the Company that it had a related open investigation covering the Company. The Company has not received any subpoena or other request for documents or other information from the DOJ with respect to this investigation. On May 9, 2022, the Company received a letter from the SEC requesting that it voluntarily provide information relating to certain customer sales and customer complaints. The Company is cooperating with the SEC and DOJ investigations. At this time, the Company cannot predict the ultimate scope, duration, or outcome of these matters.

During the second quarter of 2021, the Company became aware of a regulatory compliance issue related to our E-Series vehicles that will require retrofitting of such vehicles. Management continues to work on remediation of this issue and does not expect it to have a material impact on the Company’s financial condition and operations. Due to the uncertainties and many variables involved in regulatory matters, we cannot estimate the ultimate resolution of this issue and actual results may differ from our expectations.

Legal Proceedings

Securities Litigation

The Company, Duane Hughes, Steve Schrader, Robert Willison and Gregory Ackerson are defendants in a putative class action (the “Securities Class Action”) brought in the Central District of California (Case No.2:21-cv-02072) on behalf of purchasers of the Company’s securities from March 10, 2020 through May 10, 2021. The amended complaint in this action, filed by lead plaintiff, Timothy M. Weis, on July 16, 2021, alleges the defendants violated the federal securities laws by intentionally or recklessly making material misrepresentations and/or omissions regarding the Company’s participation in the bidding process to manufacture the new fleet of USPS next generation delivery vehicles, the prospect of the USPS awarding the contract to Workhorse given alleged deficiencies in Workhorse’s proposal, the Company’s manufacturing abilities generally and the Company’s nonbinding “backlog” in its vehicles. Lead plaintiff seeks certification of a class and monetary damages in an indeterminate amount. The Court denied the Company’s motion to dismiss in substantial part, and the Securities Class Action is currently scheduled to begin trial on March 19, 2024.

On October 24, 2022, the Company entered into a binding term sheet to resolve this litigation as well as the related Shareholders Derivative Litigation described below. Under the terms of the settlement of the class action and in resolution of all claims, Workhorse will pay $15 million in cash, which will be funded fully by proceeds of available insurance, and $20 million payable in shares of Workhorse stock. The settlement will be subject to final documentation, public notice and approval by the Court, and there can be no assurance that the settlement will be approved on those terms or at all. The Company recorded a $15 million insurance receivable in Other receivable and a $35 million legal reserve in Accrued liabilities and other in the Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheet at September 30, 2022. The Company also recognized a $20 million expense which was recognized in Selling, general and administrative of the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Operations for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2022.

Shareholder Derivative Litigation

A total of eight substantively similar derivative actions were originally filed for breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment against Duane Hughes, Steve Schrader, Stephen Fleming, Robert Willison, Anthony Furey, Gregory Ackerson, H. Benjamin Samuels, Raymond J. Chess, Harry DeMott, Gerald B. Budde, Pamela S. Mader, Michael L. Clark and Jacqueline A. Dedo in state court in Nevada, state court in Ohio, and federal courts in Nevada, Ohio and California (collectively, the "Shareholder Derivative Litigation"). In these actions, the plaintiffs allege the defendants breached their fiduciary duties by allowing or causing the Company to violate the federal securities laws as alleged in the Securities Class Action discussed above and by selling Company stock and receiving other compensation while allegedly in possession of material non-public information
about the prospect of the USPS awarding the contract to an electric vehicle manufacturer given electrifying the USPS’s entire fleet allegedly have been impractical and expensive. The plaintiffs seek damages and disgorgement in an indeterminate amount.

The three derivative cases filed in the Central District of California were consolidated into a single action on June 21, 2021 (under Case No. 2:21-cv-04202). On April 18, 2022, the plaintiffs filed their consolidated amended complaint in the consolidated action. On June 2, 2022, the defendants filed motions to dismiss, which the Company joined in with respect to the arguments related to the plaintiffs’ lack of standing, as well as a motion to stay the case pending resolution of the Securities Class Action. On October 3, 2022, the Court granted the Defendants’ motion to stay the action pending resolution of the Securities Class Action. On October 2, 2022, the Court granted the Defendants' motion to stay the action pending resolution of the Securities Class Action.

A fourth case, originally filed in the Southern District of Ohio, was transferred to the Central District of California on November 5, 2021 (under Case No. 2:21-cv-08734) and assigned to the same judge who presides over the Securities Class Action and the consolidated Central District of California derivative action. Plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint on May 2, 2022. On July 22, 2022, the Court granted the Defendants’ motion to stay the action pending resolution of the Securities Class Action.

Two further actions, both filed in the Eight Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada in and for Clark County, were consolidated on January 7, 2022 (under Case No. A-21-833050-B). On January 24, 2022, the plaintiffs in the consolidated action in Nevada state court filed their consolidated amended complaint, which was also revised to include the additional allegations made in the Amended Complaint in the Securities Class Action discussed above. On March 22, 2022, the defendants and the Company filed a motion to stay the Nevada state court consolidated action, and the defendants filed motions to dismiss the consolidated action, which the Company joined in with respect to the arguments related to the plaintiffs’ lack of standing. Plaintiffs’ oppositions to these motions were filed on June 3, 2022. Defendants’ replies were filed on July 15, 2022. On August 4, 2022, the court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss the consolidated action, but granted the defendants' motion to stay the action pending resolution of the Securities Class Action.

The seventh shareholder derivative action was filed on June 22, 2022 in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada under Case No. 2:22-cv-00980. On October 17, 2022, the Court granted the parties’ stipulation to stay the case pending resolution of the Securities Class Action.

The eighth shareholder derivative action was filed on August 19, 2022 in the Common Pleas Court of Hamilton County, Ohio under Case No. A 2203019. By stipulation of the parties, the deadline for defendants and nominal defendant to respond to the complaint has been extended to November 16, 2022.

As discussed more fully above, on October 24, 2022, the Company and the individual defendants entered into a binding term sheet to resolve the shareholder derivative actions pending in the Central District of California, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada and State District Court of Nevada as well as the related Securities Class Action. The settlement will be subject to final documentation, public notice and court approval by the State District Court of Nevada, and there can be no assurance that the settlement will be approved on those terms or at all. The parties have agreed to promptly request that the courts in such actions stay all proceedings and/or enter an order enjoining all other stockholders of the Company from commencing, instituting, or prosecuting any similar claims.

Although these actions purport to seek recovery on behalf of the Company, the Company will incur certain expenses due to indemnification and advancement obligations with respect to the defendants. The Company understands that defendants believe these actions are without merit and intends to support them as they pursue all legal avenues to defend themselves fully.

Products Liability Litigation

On September 20, 2022, Reinier Angulo filed a Complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida (Civil Action No. 1:22-cv-22489-CMA) against the Company in connection with injuries suffered while operating a W-62 truck on February 5, 2020, claiming strict liability, negligence, and negligent failure to warn. The Company does not believe it manufactured the W-62 that is the subject to the Complaint. On October 27, 2022, the Company timely filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, advising the court and the Plaintiff that the Company had insufficient contacts with the state of Florida to justify the exercise of jurisdiction in Florida and was not the manufacturer of the subject W-62 truck. On October 31, the Court denied the Company’s motion to dismiss, without prejudice, and granted the Plaintiff leave to file an
amended complaint. The Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on November 1, 2022, and the Company’s response is due on November 15, 2022.