Foulke Management Corporation ("Cherry Hill Triplex")
and State Settle Lawsuit
NEWARK -- Foulke Management Corporation ("Foulke") which does business as "Cherry Hill Triplex" and operates Cherry Hill Dodge, Cherry Hill Jeep Eagle, Cherry Hill Kia, Cherry Hill Mitsubishi and Mt. Ephraim Chrysler/Dodge, has agreed to a $750,000 settlement with the Office of the Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs.
Pursuant to the settlement, Foulke has agreed to pay $450,000 to the state for consumer restitution and reimbursement of the state's attorneys' fees and investigative costs. The settlement also provides for $300,000 in civil penalties, which are suspended. The state can seek payment of the civil penalties if Foulke fails to adhere to the settlement terms during the next year. In entering into the settlement, Foulke made no admissions of liability or wrongdoing.
"Dealers who do not deal honestly with the public will be held accountable," Attorney General Anne Milgram said. "We had been in court on this matter several times, and were ready to move forward to trial, if this settlement had not been reached."
The settlement resolves the state's lawsuit filed on March 13, 2006 that alleged violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations, Used Law Lemon Law and Used Car Lemon Law Regulations as well as a prior Assurance of Voluntary Compliance entered into with the state. Among other things, the state alleged that the company advertised "$8,000 GUARANTEED FOR YOUR TRADE," "no credit check" and "you instantly qualify, regardless of your credit," and then failed to provide the trade-in allowance or credit. The state also alleged that the company failed to properly display prices on new and used motor vehicles.
"This settlement addresses the consumers who have previously filed complaints while also protecting consumers who do business with Foulke in the future," said David Szuchman, Consumer Affairs Director. "We are prepared to act again on behalf of consumers if any violations are committed by these dealerships in the future."
The settlement is memorialized in a Final Consent Judgment in which Foulke has agreed to extensive injunctive relief and business practices, which include that the company:
Not represent an unconditional or guaranteed promotion (i.e. trade-in allowance) and then fail to honor the terms of such promotion;
Not represent that consumers are automatically approved for or otherwise guaranteed financing, and then fail to arrange for financing;
Not represent that a motor vehicle is available for sale or lease, when the motor vehicle has been sold or leased;
In accordance with a prior ruling of the Court, not offer for sale any motor vehicle unless the total selling price is plainly marked on the vehicle or where the vehicle is offered for sale;
Shall undertake a search to discern the prior use (i.e. rental) and/or whether a motor vehicle has been involved in an accident or otherwise sustained damage and shall disclose such information to consumers, prior to their purchase or lease;
Shall not represent that certain products (i.e. GAP coverage) are mandatory, when in fact they are not;
Shall not misrepresent the final down payment or monthly payment that a consumer will be required to make for the sale or lease of a motor vehicle in the sales document;
Shall provide consumers with an opportunity to review all sales documents before signing and shall provide them with copies of all signed sales documents;
In all advertisements, shall clearly and conspicuously state all disclaimers, qualifiers or limitations that in fact limit, condition or negate a purported unconditional offer; and
For all advertised motor vehicles, shall maintain a copy of all applicable advertisements and a copy of the executed sales documents for at least 180 days after the transaction.
In addition, Foulke agreed to participate in the Division's Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process, for at least the next year, to address any additional consumer complaints. Under this process, the Division shall forward to Foulke any additional consumer complaints it receives for resolution. In the event the complaint is not resolved, the consumer has the option of submitting the matter to binding arbitration before the ADR Unit.
The Division will be sending questionnaires to all consumers who previously have filed complaints against Foulke, to determine whether the consumers are entitled to restitution.
Deputy Attorney General Lorraine K. Rak, Chief of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section, and Deputy Attorney General Gina M. Betts represented the state in this action.
To read the Final Consent Judgment, clck here.