Madigan sues Chicago car dealers

By Chris Rizo | Aug 27, 2008

Lisa Madigan (D)

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline)─ Aiming to discourage car dealers from luring consumers into risky loans, Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Wednesday she filed a lawsuit against two Cook County car lots for allegedly doing just that.

Orland Park Nissan and Infiniti of Orland Park are accused of sending direct mail advertisements in April 2007 to Chicago-area consumers describing an "exclusive credit amnesty event."

The mailer indicated that the so-called amnesty would allow consumers to qualify for an affordable auto loan regardless of their credit rating.

The attorney general's office said the mailer was enclosed in an envelope marked "important vehicle recall information," but no recall by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was enclosed.

"These deceptive mailers purposely and unfairly targeted consumers who may have struggled at one time to manage their finances," Madigan said. "This lawsuit should send the message to auto dealers that my office won't tolerate using deceptive marketing practices to lure unsuspecting consumers into risky loans."

The attorney general's office said it has received 26 complaints against Orland Park Nissan and Infiniti of Orland Park, while the Better Business Bureau received 18 complaints against the auto dealers.

The lawsuit alleges that the companies violated the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, the Loan Advertising to Bankrupts Act, the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Illinois Administrative Rules on Motor Vehicle Advertising.

In addition to court and investigative costs, Madigan is seeking restitution for consumers and is asking the court to assess civil penalties of $50,000 per violation, an additional $50,000 statutory civil penalty and a $10,000 civil penalty for each violation committed against a person over 65 years of age.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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