BECKLEY – Five lawsuits have been filed against John Howerton Honda for fraud and unfair practices.

H&P Inc. is doing business as John Howerton Honda. Santander Consumer USA Inc. was also named as a defendant in the suit.

The plaintiffs visited Howerton on separate occasions to purchase vehicles, according to three lawsuits filed Aug. 24, one filed Sept. 1 and one filed Sept. 12 in Raleigh Circuit Court.

Mary West visited Howerton on Aug. 26, 2015 and, as a daycare provider through Mountain Heart, she earned between $1,400 and $1,800.

West claims she filled out a form with her address, social security number and signature and then looked at several vehicles. She then selected a 2013 Nissan Murano for purchase.

After being told that Howerton would trade for her vehicle—a 2006 Kia Optima—and $1,500 cash down, West informed the defendants that she did not have $1,500 to do the deal. The employee then told her they could waive the fee, so she went forward with the paperwork to conclude the deal.

When the paperwork was completed, West realized the payment was going to be $591.64 per month and protested that it was too much. Another representative then told her that the payment could be refinanced in six months for a lower interest rate and a lower payment, so West went forward with the deal.

Howerton misrepresented that West’s monthly income was $5,964 from retirement and $896 per month in supplemental security income, which was false.

On Aug. 29, 2015, Demetri Squires visited Howerton to look at vehicles. At the time, he was a delivery driver with a monthly income of $1,646 per month.

Squires selected a 2012 Nissan Rogue for purchase and was informed that with a trade in of his vehicle—a 2003 Mitsubishi Outlander—and $500 cash down, he could get the Nissan Rogue.

The plaintiff discovered that the monthly payment was going to be $504.96 and protested that it was too much, however, he was informed he could refinance the payment in six months and went forward with the deal.

He later discovered that the defendants misrepresented his income to a substantially higher amount, according to the suit.

On Aug. 31, 2015, Jatazia McDowell went to Howerton and, at the time, she was unemployed with no income and was only 17 years old.

McDowell was approved for a 2015 Honda CVCC and was informed that she could get the vehicle for trade in of her 2006 Kia Optima and $1,500 cash down. She then informed the defendant that she did not have the cash and was told they could waive the fee.

When the paperwork was completed, the payment was going to be $593.47 and McDowell went forward with the deal. Howerton misrepresented the plaintiff’s income, which was none, to a substantially higher amount.

On Sept. 2, 2015, Robin Frost was working at Dunkin Donuts in Beckley when salesmen from Howerton came in and, after a short conversation, invited her to come buy a car. 

Frost went to the dealership and selected a 2014 Subaru Legacy for which she executed a retail installment sales contract.

When Frost learned that the monthly payment would be $571.34, she protested that the payment was more than she could afford and was assured that it was only an introductory payment and could be refinanced within a few months.

Frost later discovered that the defendant misrepresented her income to be $4,968 per month, according to the suit.

On Sept. 12, 2015, William Shelton went to Howerton at the suggestion of a friend. At the time, he had no credit history and was employed at a car wash earning only $500 per week.

Shelton picked out a 2014 Nissan Maxima and then learned that the payment would be more than $600 per month, according to the suit.

The plaintiff protested that it was too much money and was told that Santander would refinance the payment for just over $300, which did not happen.

Shelton claims he later learned that the credit application reported that his income was $5,832—nearly three times his actual income.

The defendants’ actions were fraud and unfair practice, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Paul W. Roop II.

Raleigh Circuit Court case numbers: 17-C-472, 17-C-473, 17-C-474, 17-C-493, 17-C-504

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