New Jersey changes locks at prom store

Bryan Cohen Jun. 11, 2012, 9:31am


NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced on Friday that action has been taken pursuant to a court order against a Wayne prom store that allegedly failed to honor purchases after closing its doors.

The state's Division of Consumer Affairs changed the locks at The Red Carpet Pageant and Prom LLC, impounded all records and merchandise at the store, and is prepared to return prom dresses to consumers who purchased them.

On Wednesday, the division returned the first garment to a consumer who provided proof she purchased the dress. Hours before the action was taken, Superior Court Judge Margaret Mary McVeigh ordered a temporary freeze of the defendants' assets, authorizing a temporary receiver and the division to impound the merchandise at the store.

"A prom is a significant event in a teenager's life, and one for which many consumers deposit significant amounts of money for the perfect dress," Chiesa said. "We will not tolerate businesses that make false promises to consumers, then fail to provide the goods or services consumers have paid for."

The DCA filed suit on Tuesday against Red Carpet, Patricia A. Dowling, its manager, and her husband, Michael J. Dowling, after the store ceased business operations in the middle of prom season. The defendants allegedly left many young women without prom dresses or refunds after the consumers paid in part or in full for the garments.

Red Carpet and its owners allegedly violated the state's Consumer Fraud Act by engaging in false promises, deception, unconscionable commercial practices and/or misrepresentation. The defendants allegedly took payment for dresses that were specially ordered and were to be provided at a later date but were never provided. In one instance, the defendants allegedly took a consumer's deposit to place his order for a tuxedo and failed to place the order.

At least 16 consumers allegedly paid the defendants in part or in full a total of $5,400 for dresses that have yet to be provided, Chiesa said. The defendants allegedly contacted consumers as late as the first week of May telling them that the dresses were ready to be picked up. When consumers arrived at the store shortly thereafter, the store was closed.

The lawsuit seeks a permanent freeze of the defendants' assets, civil penalties, costs, fees and full restitution for the affected consumers.

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