CHARLESTON -- A South Charleston is suing American Driveline Centers after he claims it wrongfully sold his vehicle while he was trying to gather the funds to have the vehicle repaired.

Baldwin Auto Parts, Inc.; Baldwin Auto Parts, Inc. d/b/a Kanawha Valley Towing & Recovery; John "Owner of American Driveline Centers, Inc." Doe; and David Carruthers were also named as defendants in the suit.

Cory Neal and his wife and children moved to South Charleston on May 1 to live near family, according to a complaint filed June 22 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Neal claims on May 7 his vehicle broke down and was towed to American Driveline Centers by Abbot's Towing after regular business hours.

On May 8, Neal returned to American Driveline and spoke with Pamela, a female desk clerk employed at American Driveline, about repairs to the transmission in his vehicle, according to the suit.

Neal claims American Driveline ran a free diagnostic test on the vehicle and confirmed a failure of the transmission.

American Driveline gave Neal a verbal estimate of $3,000 to replace the transmission with a new transmission and $1,000 to $1,500 for labor, which totaled $4,000 to $4,500 for the repairs of the vehicle, according to the suit.

Neal claims he advised the defendant that he and his family had just moved to South Charleston and with moving expenses and expenses related to turning on utilities and paying deposits, he did not have the funds readily available to replace the transmission, but that he would work on getting the funds together.

American Driveline advised Neal that his vehicle would be kept and/or stored until he could obtain the funds for repairs and kept the keys to his vehicle, according to the suit.

Neal claims American Driveline assured him it was not a problem for the vehicle to remain on its property awaiting repairs and he returned on a regular basis to speak with the defendant about the pending repairs and status of his financial situation.

On June 15, Neal went to American Driveline to visit his vehicle and discovered the vehicle was gone, according to the suit, and initially no one at American Driveline would reveal to Neal the whereabouts of the vehicle.

Neal claims he eventually discovered his vehicle had been sold to a towing company in Sissonville for $700.

After the discovery, Neal went Baldwin Auto Parts and discovered that many components of his vehicle had been removed, including his stereo system, GPS system and the battery, according to the suit.

Neal claims the defendants did not advise or notify him that his vehicle needed to be removed from American Driveline's premises and, after taking possession of the vehicle, converted the vehicle to its own use and rendered financial gain to Neal's detriment.

The defendants' actions caused Neal to sustain loss of use, mental anguish, aggravation and convenience and emotional distress, according to the suit.

Neal is seeking the fair market value of his vehicle and the electronics in his vehicle; compensatory damages; punitive damages; and pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Cynthia M. Ranson and J. Michael Ranson.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charles E. King.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-1180

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