Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)


3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2016
Commitments And Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  

8. Contingencies

Legal and Other Proceedings

Sonic is involved, and expects to continue to be involved, in numerous legal and administrative proceedings arising out of the conduct of its business, including regulatory investigations and private civil actions brought by plaintiffs purporting to represent a potential class or for which a class has been certified. Although Sonic vigorously defends itself in all legal and administrative proceedings, the outcomes of pending and future proceedings arising out of the conduct of Sonic’s business, including litigation with customers, employment related lawsuits, contractual disputes, class actions, purported class actions and actions brought by governmental authorities, cannot be predicted with certainty. An unfavorable resolution of one or more of these matters could have a material adverse effect on Sonic’s business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows or prospects.

At both March 31, 2016 and December 31, 2015, approximately $0.3 million and $0.2 million was included in other accrued liabilities and other long-term liabilities in the accompanying condensed consolidated balance sheets, respectively, in reserves that Sonic was holding for pending proceedings. Except as reflected in such reserves, Sonic is currently unable to estimate a range of reasonably possible loss, or a range of reasonably possible loss in excess of the amount accrued, for pending proceedings.

Guarantees and Indemnification Obligations

In accordance with the terms of Sonic’s operating lease agreements, Sonic’s dealership subsidiaries, acting as lessees, generally agree to indemnify the lessor from certain exposure arising as a result of the use of the leased premises, including environmental exposure and repairs to leased property upon termination of the lease. In addition, Sonic has generally agreed to indemnify the lessor in the event of a breach of the lease by the lessee.

In connection with dealership dispositions, certain of Sonic’s dealership subsidiaries have assigned or sublet to the buyer its interests in real property leases associated with such dealerships. In general, the subsidiaries retain responsibility for the performance of certain obligations under such leases, including rent payments and repairs to leased property upon termination of the lease, to the extent that the assignee or sub-lessee does not perform. In the event the assignees or sub-lessees do not perform their obligations under such leases, Sonic remains liable for the lease payments. See Note 12, “Commitments and Contingencies,” to the consolidated financial statements in Sonic’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2015 for further discussion.

In accordance with the terms of agreements entered into for the sale of Sonic’s dealerships, Sonic generally agrees to indemnify the buyer from certain liabilities and costs arising subsequent to the date of sale, including environmental exposure and exposure resulting from the breach of representations or warranties made in accordance with the agreement. While Sonic’s exposure with respect to environmental remediation and repairs is difficult to quantify, Sonic’s maximum exposure associated with these general indemnifications was approximately $3.5 million and $5.3 million at March 31, 2016 and December 31, 2015, respectively. These indemnifications expire within a period of one to three years following the date of sale. The estimated fair value of these indemnifications was not material and the amount recorded for this contingency was not significant at March 31, 2016. Sonic also guarantees the floor plan commitments of its 50%-owned joint venture, the amount of which was approximately $2.8 million at both March 31, 2016 and December 31, 2015.