WINFIELD – A Hurricane car dealership is named as a defendant in two complaints recently filed in Putnam Circuit Court.
In the first, Hurricane Chevrolet is accused of selling a lemon to a Cabell County couple. In the second, the dealership is accused hiding key information about a used car from a Roane County couple before they bought it.
Brenda and Mark Arthur filed their suit on Dec. 11. In addition to Hurricane Chevrolet, they also name General Motors and Americredit Financial Services as defendants.
The Arthurs say they bought a 2005 Chevy Cobalt from the dealership on May 9, 2005. On April 17, 2006, they took the vehicle to the service department for a rattle in the steering column. That repair attempt, however, was unsuccessful. Three subsequent attempts also failed, the complaint says.
In their three-count complaint, the Arthurs accuse the defendants of breach of warranty under West Virginia's "lemon" laws, negligence and violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The second suit, filed by Dec. 19 by Joseph A. and Nicole S. Copen, lists Hurricane Chevrolet and Capital One Auto Finance as defendants.
The Copens say they were looking at vehicles at Hurricane Chevrolet in May 2006. The next day, a salesman from the dealership called to say he had a particular vehicle to fit their needs.
When asked about the vehicle's mileage, the salesman said it was attributable to it having been a demonstrator driven by a company official.
But the Copens say that was a lie.
"In fact, the vehicle had two prior owners, one of which had been a national rental car company titled in Tennessee and a second owner titled in Ohio," the complaint states. "The plaintiffs were not so informed."
Relying on this faulty information, the Copens signed the contracts to buy the vehicle on May 23, 2006. In addition, Nicole Copen sign a document that stated that in the event the plaintiffs did not timely pay, the defendants could add collection costs and garnish wages without stating that a judgment first had to be obtained.
And within days of purchase, the plaintiffs say they experienced mechanical defects and called dealer.
On June 2, the Copens sought information about the vehicle's title background.
"Dealer eventually produced a Carfax report showing, among other things, that the vehicle had been owned by a rental car company," the complaint states. "The plaintiffs protested that said salesman had represented that the vehicle had been a demonstrator driven by a company official.
"The plaintiffs sought to return the vehicle, and the defendant stated that it's too late, you signed and we don't have to tell you the truth about the vehicle."
The Copens say they protested that they wouldn't have bought the car had they known the truth. They say they suffered loss of value and annoyance and inconvenience.
The accuse the defendants of fraud for the intentional misrepresentation and for unlawful collection practices. They also accused them of unconscionable contract.
"Defendants took advantage of the plaintiffs and their ignorance of the true facts about the vehicle and placed them in a contract with exploitive terms," the complaint states. "Defendants induced the plaintiffs into contract by unfair practices."
For that, the Copens seek to have the contract be declared unenforceable and that they be awarded a penalty of $4,000.
They also seek actual and punitive damages, that the defendants be enjoined from enforcement of the contract, court costs, attorney fees and other relief.
The Arthurs are represented by attorney Jason Goad and the Copens by Daniel F. Hedges. Both cases have been assigned to Circuit Judge Ed Eagloski.
Putnam Circuit Court case numbers: 06-C-408 (Arthurs) and 06-C-421 (Copens)