Bering Truck Corp. and its subsidiary Bering Truck Distribution LLC have filed a $500 million federal antitrust lawsuit against German auto and truck maker DaimlerChrysler and its former partner, Hyundai Motor Co. of South Korea.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, Virginia, seeks $500 million in both physical and punitive damages for violations of the U.S. antitrust laws and violations of Virginia law, including that state’s business destruction statute, Bering said.

The suit alleges, among other things, unlawful restraint of trade, market allocation, price fixing and malicious collusion to drive VA-based Bering out of business. It is alleged that DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai implemented their anti-competitive pact by having Hyundai wrongfully sever its relationship with Bering, leaving Bering “with no manufacturer support and nothing to build or sell.”

Bering, which had an agreement since 1998 to be the exclusive U.S. commercial truck distributor for Hyundai Motor Company, was forced to close its doors last week due to this situation, the company said.

After Bering entered the United States market as Hyundai’s exclusive commercial distributor, DaimlerChrysler acquired a 10% stake in Hyundai worth $428 million and, in addition, Hyundai negotiated a worldwide commercial truck joint venture with DaimlerChrysler AG.

In June 2000, Daimler’s chairman, Jurgen Shrempp, announced that the joint venture would market Hyundai’s trucks in North America through Daimler subsidiaries Sterling and Freightliner. Bering said this action coincided with Hyundai’s efforts to terminate Bering Truck Distribution as its U.S. distributor and Bering Truck Corporation as its licensee.