Attorney General sues door-to-door meat company

By Chris Dickerson | Dec 22, 2005

CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw has sued a Nitro door-to-door meat company, claiming it sells low-quality products and doesn't follow consumer protection laws.

Mr. Meats, owned by Bill Parsons, sells meat and seafood across Kanawha County, the suit says. It goes on to say the company does not have a food handling permit from the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

Also, the suit claims, the company misrepresents the type of meat it sells, does not give customers a three-day right to cancel, does not honor legitimate requests to cancel sales and charges unlawful fees for bad checks.

The suit, filed in Kanawha Circuit Court, claims six consumers have complained to the Attorney General's office about Mr. Meats since Feb. 20, 2004. It says none of the consumers received a three-day right to cancel and that most of the consumers who filed complaints were elderly.

"In fact, Mr. Meats's policy was never to offer cash refunds, and to only occasionally allow the consumer to exchange the product," the suit says.

Examples from the consumers offer specific claims against Mr. Meats.

Lillian Campbell says she paid $25 for what Mr. Meats said was filet mignon.

"When Campbell opened the package, she realized that the meat was in fact sirloin," the suit says.

Sissonville resident Constance Given says she paid $388 for what she was told were Black Angus steaks.

"But when she opened the package, she realized that the meat she actually received was of an inferior quality," the suit says.

"The steaks were very thin," Given says in an affidavit. "We tried two of the steaks, and they were inedible."

In her affidavit, South Charleston resident Julie Anderson says she paid $337 for bulk meat, chicken and shrimp.

"The shrimp was freezer burned, rubbery and just plain awful," Anderson claims. "The shrimp was inedible.

"The chicken strips were freezer flavored and disgusting. The chicken strips were inedible."

In the suit, McGraw also says state code says a company can charge up to $25 for a worthless check. Mr. Meats, the suit says, charges $50.

Also, the suit claims a representative of Mr. Meats told one elderly man that his check for $410 had bounced and that he needed to write another check to the company. He did so, but later learned the first check didn't bounce.

As far as obtaining a permit from the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, the suit says the department "has repeatedly advised Mr. Meats that it needed to obtain a 'retail food permit' from their office" since March 7, 2004.

The suit says the attorney general's office also requested the company get the permit and that the company said it would in a letter. Soon, however, a lawyer for Mr. Meats said the company refused to get the permit.

The suit seeks a hearing for a preliminary injunction and order keeping the defendants from selling, permanent relief, an order requiring the defendants to pay the maximum civil penalty of $5,000 for each violation and to provide full refunds to consumers who purchases from them and did not receive and sign a notice of their three-day right of cancel, as well as costs, attorney fees and further relief.

A hearing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan 9 before Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 05-C-2694

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