Repeated complaints have prompted the state to file an action against a used-car dealer that alleges numerous violations of the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey announced in August 2016 that his office took this step against Dunfee’s Used Cars in Huntington after the business was cited for a series of compliance issues dating back several years.
The charges against Dunfee’s include underlying allegations that are often made by unhappy car buyers:
- Defective vehicles — Automobiles must be sold in a condition sufficient to pass state inspection to satisfy the warranty of merchantability. The state’s complaint alleges that Dunfee’s sold vehicles that were not suitable for road use under West Virginia law.
- Failure to display car buyer guides — All used vehicles must post disclosure documents referred to as “Buyer’s Guides” on the outside of all vehicles, per Federal Trade Commission rules. The absence of these materials on cars sold by Dunfee’s is characterized by the attorney general’s office as an “unfair or deceptive” trade practice according to the West Virginia Code.
- Improper warranties — Car dealers are required to use legally required language for warranties. Dunfee’s purported alteration of these terms purportedly broke state law even if the buyer agreed to the revised terms.
This strong move is predicated on Dunfee’s alleged violation of the 2010 Assurance of Discontinuance that the auto dealer executed with the attorney general’s office. The complaint states that the second Assurance of Discontinuance was agreed to in 2015, under which Dunfee’s agreed to correct contract language in accordance with state law.
In the lawsuit, the state seeks civil penalties of $5,000 for each violation in addition to restitution for aggrieved consumers. With the possibility of such severe sanctions, qualified advice regarding complex state regulations is necessary to operate a business that sells vehicles. This is especially true for dealerships already operating under an Assurance of Discontinuance.
Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe, PLLC has represented automobile dealers in hundreds of lawsuits and thousands of claims involving fraud, breach of expressed warranty, and other actions. To schedule a consultation, call 304-344-0100 or contact us online.