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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Car dealer settles N.C. discrimination suit

By Mark Payne | Feb 11, 2015

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper | North Carolina Attorney General's Office

The owner of two Charlotte, North Carolina, car dealerships recently reached a settlement with  Attorney General Roy Cooper and the U.S. Department of Justice after he allegedly overpriced cars and used predatory loans to target African Americans.

Zuhdi Saadeh, who owns Southeastern Auto Corp. and Auto Fare, allegedly violated North Carolina's Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as the federal Equal Opportunity Act.

As part of the settlement, he must reimburse consumers $225,000 and change his business practices.

Saadeh allegedly charged African American consumers prices that were above the standard market rate, and signed them up for loans that were considered predatory due to high interest rates and other fees. In some cases, consumers were charged 29 percent interest, which is the highest under North Carolina law. 

“All consumers deserve to be treated fairly when they buy a car,” Cooper said. “We hope this case sends a strong message that car dealers cannot use race when targeting buyers with overpriced cars and oppressive loans.”

The settlement is the result of a lawsuit filed by Cooper's office in January 2014 along with the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina 

“The terms of a person’s loan should not be determined by their race,” U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins for the Western District of North Carolina said. “Predatory lending and illegal discrimination will simply not be tolerated.”

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North Carolina Office of the Attorney GeneralU.S. Department of Justice