NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) - Thousands of consumers have moved another step closer to obtaining refunds from an online computer seller and liquidator that a judge says misrepresented its products, Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper has announced.
In a consumer protection case against Nashville-based Consumer Depot LLC, and owners and operators Martin Fike, Carol Fike, Michael Hinds, and related entity Auction Logistix LLC, a Davidson County Circuit Court judge has sided with the State of Tennessee, which alleged misrepresentation by the company. An estimated 21,000 consumers will be affected by the ruling.
"Businesses that cheat the public through false and deceptive advertising have no business in Tennessee," Cooper said.
"Not only do such unlawful tactics harm consumers across the country, but they also tarnish the reputations of all honest Tennessee businesses that play by the rules."
Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Amanda McClendon agreed that Consumer Depot had violated the Consumer Protection Act in her Jan. 4 ruling.
"The State has submitted over 30 consumer affidavits describing first-hand accounts of actual deception, including first-hand accounts of actual deception, including misrepresentations about defendants' products, misleading return procedures, lack of customer service, and retaliation," McClendon said in her ruling.
The suit against Consumer Depot was filed in 2006 following hundreds of consumer complaints about Consumer Depot's business practices received by area complaint handling entities including the Division of Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau. Consumers alleged that the company misled them abouts its products and then refused to resolve complaints or give refunds.
Owners Martin Fike and Carol Fike, manager Michael Hinds and related entity Auction Logistic LLC were added to the lawsuit by the State in 2007 after evidence was found that they had all actively participated in Consumer Depot's deceptive business conduct.
Proceedings to set a permanent injunction and establish civil penalties, restitution and attorneys' fees are expected to be held in the near future.