N.J. AG gets judgment against prom dress company

By Bryan Cohen | Feb 20, 2013

NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced a final default judgment Wednesday against a North Jersey dress shop that allegedly failed to deliver prom dresses to consumers who paid in advance.

The Wayne-based The Red Carpet Pageant and Prom LLC allegedly ceased operations in the middle of prom season in May, leaving many young women without dresses, without refunds and scrambling to make new prom arrangements. Chiesa's office filed a lawsuit against Red Carpet and owners Patricia and Michael Dowling alleging violations of the state's Consumer Fraud Act.

"This judgment brings victory to the consumers who were defrauded after they paid large, up-front deposits for dresses that were supposed to be ready in time for the prom, a major event in an adolescent's life," Chiesa said. "The Division of Consumer Affairs took every possible step to put dresses in the hands of their rightful owners before their big events. Today we are providing full monetary restitution to those consumers who have not yet obtained their merchandise or their refunds."

The final default judgment allows the state's Division of Consumer Affairs to provide $2,900 in restitution to the 11 consumers who were adversely affected by the actions of Red Carpet. The money will be taken from the proceeds of a court-ordered auction held in August. The remaining funds, approximately $6,000, will serve as a partial payment to the court-appointed receiver.

The judgment also orders Red Carpet, Patricia and Michael Dowling and a related company, Prom and Pageant Place LLC, to pay $110,000 in civil penalties, $26,000 for attorney fees and $18,000 to the court-appointed receiver.

Under the terms of the judgment, Patricia Dowling is permanently barred from managing or owning any business organization in the state and the defendants are permanently enjoined from selling or advertising pageant dresses, prom dresses or other formal wear.

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