Four out-of-business auto dealerships and their owners are the target of lawsuits filed by the Indiana attorney general for violating the state’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed the complaints March 10 in state courts against former used-car lots in Fort Wayne, Fortville and Indianapolis for deceptive acts and failing to deliver titles to nearly 50 customers. Without the titles, owners cannot get their cars registered in the state and cannot legally drive their vehicles.
“The 48 Hoosiers impacted in these cases spent thousands of dollars on cars which they can’t prove they own,” Zoeller said. “This can be a common problem, especially when used auto dealers go out of business.”
In addition to seeking restitution for the customers, including delivery of the titles, the lawsuits are asking for civil penalties and reimbursement for investigative costs.
The four defendants are:
• Prestige Auto in Fortville (lawsuit filed in Hancock County). The dealership is accused of failing to deliver titles to at least 10 customers and failing to provide a purchased warranty to one customer. Also Prestige allegedly did not follow through on paying off the remaining loans on three trade-in vehicles, leaving customers on the hook for loans of $23,800 and $3,500.
• AnyCredit Auto Superstore Inc. in Fort Wayne (lawsuit filed in Allen County). The business is accused of not delivering titles to at least 10 customers, misrepresenting the price of a vehicle and failing to perform repairs.
• Southport Motors in Indianapolis (lawsuit filed in Marion County). The car lot is accused of failing to deliver 21 titles to customers. Also, Southport allegedly did not pay-off the remaining loan balance of $16,500 on one customer’s trade-in vehicle.
• US Fleet Liquidators LLC in Indianapolis (lawsuit filed in Marion County). The dealership is accused of not providing titles to seven customers.
Under state law, car dealers are required to deliver the title to the buyer either at the time of the sale or delivery or within 21 days of the date of the sale.
According to Zoeller, his office receives more auto sales complaints each year than any other retail category. A total of 1,340 complaints were filed in 2015 and, in recent years, the attorney general has filed lawsuits against 20 dealerships for not delivering titles.