Fraud

Ross Law Files Lawsuit Against Ontario Auto Ranch for Unlawful Vehicle Sale

Ross Law PDX recently filed a lawsuit in Malheur County Circuit Court against Ontario Auto Ranch for an unlawful “Yo-Yo” sale of a vehicle. This is one of the more egregious “Yo-Yo” sales that we have seen in years.

Yo-Yo scams go by a few different terms (spot delivery, bushing scams), but essentially the scam goes like this: The dealership informs the consumer that their financing has been approved and the deal is done. The consumer then drives the vehicle off the lot and is under the impression it is theirs.

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Days, weeks, or months later, the dealership calls the consumer and tells the consumer that the financing did not go through. The dealership will then claim they can obtain financing for the vehicle, but they will either need more money for a down payment, or they have to change the financing terms, or both. This puts the consumer in a difficult spot, because the consumer is under the impression the vehicle was theirs. Consumers don’t want to have to explain to friends and family that they had to return the vehicle because they couldn’t get it financed. Dealers know this, and capitalize on the consumer’s fears to get the consumer to agree to new less favorable financing terms. This allows the dealership to squeeze more money out of the consumer.

Yo-Yo sales are legal. However, the law requires the dealership to comply with certain deadlines and make certain disclosures in order to make a Yo-Yo sale legal. For example, the dealership has 14 days from the date the consumer takes possession of the vehicle to find the consumer financing or inform the consumer that financing under the original terms could not be obtained. During this 14-day period the dealership cannot sell the Trade-In vehicle. Additionally, if the dealership cannot obtain vehicle financing under the original terms, then the dealership must offer to immediately return any vehicle traded in and any cash down payment. If the dealership fails to do this, they have broken the law.

Usually there are other legal violations that flow out of these unlawful sales. Truth In Lending Act violations are common, unlawful “payment packing” is also common, and there will often be unlawful attempts to conceal negative equity or inflate cash down payments in an effort to obtain financing from the lender. This is what we allege Ontario Auto Ranch has done.

Ontario Auto Ranch is a large auto dealership in Ontario, Oregon. Auto Ranch sold our client a 2015 Ford truck in June 2018. Auto Ranch orchestrated the deal so that our client would trade in two vehicles for the Ford truck, and the dealership would obtain financing for the Ford Truck. Our client took possession of the vehicle in June 2018 and the dealership informed our client the financing had been approved. At that time, the dealership took possession of the 2 trade in vehicles.

One of the trade-ins was a 2017 Dodge truck, the other was an 2011 Ford. The Dodge was financed and the consumer owed more than the Dodge was worth. (negative equity) The financing documents do not note the Dodge had any negative equity, so it appears that the dealership gave our client cash for the 2011 Ford and applied that amount to the “Trade-In value” of the Dodge. The financing documents are silent on the amount the dealer paid our client for the 2011 Ford. This allowed the dealership to conceal the Dodge’s negative equity and make it appear the dealership paid more for the Dodge than they actually did.

The Retail Installment Contract was also silent as to “Theft Protection” and “Pre-Paid Maintenance.” Dealerships make significant profits on these additional products. However, these products appear on our client’s “Motor Vehicle Purchase Agreement.” It appears these products were unlawfully rolled into the purchase price of the vehicle, and were not disclosed in accordance with the law.

After the purchase of the Ford Truck, our client continued to contact Ontario Auto Ranch. He wanted to know where he would send his monthly payments to. Ontario Auto Ranch informed him that the vehicle financing was being processed and blamed the delay on the Credit Union.

Six weeks after our client took possession of the vehicle, Ontario Auto Ranch finally informed our client that they were having difficulty financing the vehicle due to a paperwork error. In August 2018, the dealership demanded our client sign a new Retail Installment Contract with new financing terms. Auto Ranch again failed to disclose the Dodge’s negative equity and there is no mention of the 2011 Ford on the August Retail Installment Contract. However, this time the dealership noted on the Retail Installment Contract that there was $299.00 paid to an entity for “Maintenance.” Similar to the June 2018 sale, our client was instructed where to sign and did so based on the dealer’s representations.

Our client continued to call Auto Ranch in August and September 2018. At this point, our client had the vehicle for roughly three months. However, Ontario Auto Ranch gave him the run-around and would not provide a clear answer on the status of the financing. In September, Ontario Auto Ranch asserted the loan needed to be re-submitted to the bank.

Later in September, the dealership informed our client that it was unable to obtain funding for the Ford’s loan under the terms of the agreement. Auto Ranch informed our client that a different bank could finance the deal, but at a substantially higher interest rate. Shortly thereafter, Auto Ranch informed our client that the options were: 1) sign a new financing contract with a higher interest rate, or 2) Auto Ranch would repossess the Ford. Auto Ranch never informed our client whether or not he could obtain his trade-ins back. In October 2018, our client contacted Ontario Auto Ranch in an effort to determine the status of financing. The dealership has yet to get back to him or contact Ross Law.

As a result, our client had no choice but to file a lawsuit against the dealership. This type of scam is all too common. However, it rarely gets to this point. As you can imagine this has been extremely frustrating and difficult for our client. We are eager to force the dealership to attempt to justify their actions and hopefully Auto Ranch will learn from this lawsuit.

FOR A FULL FACTUAL BASIS FOR THIS POST SEE: Malheur County Circuit Court Case 18CV55364. If you, or someone you know, has been ripped off by a car dealers, call Ross Law PDX at 503.224.1658. Jeremiah Ross represents consumers throughout the state of Oregon. Please note that this litigation is evolving and refer to the Court’s file for updated information, and this post is based on current information as we know it. The dealership may have a different version of events, and we look forward to hearing those.

Investigating a Car Dealer's Reputation Before You Buy a Car

Purchasing a vehicle is stressful.  It is usually one of the largest purchases a person can make. That is why many people do their homework prior to purchasing a vehicle.  Many consumers will research a particular car and visit blog posts (like my recent blog post) to obtain information on how to research a particular vehicle.  However, many people fail to investigate the reputation of the dealership that they are dealing with.  This is usually pretty easy, but you would be surprised at how many people that were ripped off by a car dealer call me and say after the purchase they learned the dealership had numerous consumer complaints.  Here are some places to look for information about an Oregon car dealership before you purchase the vehicle.  Please remember the list is not exhaustive.  Also, Ross Law does not have any affiliation with the businesses or entities below.

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Do an Internet Search for the Dealerships name and the Dealer:  Whether you use Google, Yahoo, Bing, or some other search engine, you should always search the dealer's name for information about the dealer.   These internet searches will reveal good reviews, bad reviews, and any other information about the dealer that may reflect on the dealer's reputation.

Search the Oregon Department of Justice's Website for Consumer Claims:  The Oregon Department of Justice keeps an on-line database for consumer complaints against a particular dealership.  It is not complete, and sometimes there are issues with whether the complaint is filed under the proper name, but it is a very useful tool to determine if another person has had a negative experience with the car dealer.  Click here for access the database to review consumer complaints.

Search the Better Business Web-Site for Complaints: The Better Business Bureau (BBB) also has an online database that will provide limited information regarding the dealership.  It is not complete or comprehensive, but it may provide information regarding a particular dealership and the types of complaints the BBB receives about that dealership. Click here to access the Better Business Bureau website

Review old issues of the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles Dealer Details Publication:  The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles publishes a newsletter that has a section that reports sanctions imposed against a dealership.  Click here to access the Dealer Details Publication.

Please remember that Ross Law does not have any affiliation with the above businesses or entities.  Also, please note the data and the information on the websites may not be complete.  Also, be aware that some businesses and dealerships will post fake reviews, or provide an incentive for a person to post a positive review that may not accurately reflect the transaction.  Also, even if you research the dealership you may get ripped off.  In the event, you, or someone you know, are ripped off, sold a lemon, or have been defrauded by an Oregon car dealer call Ross Law PDX at 503.224.1658. Jeremiah Ross is an Oregon Consumer Lawyer that regularly represents consumers who have been ripped off by car dealers or other businesses.  This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with an attorney.  This post and blog could be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING. 

Three Things To Know About Oregon's Lemon Law and Motor Homes:

Oregon recently changed its lemon law to protect consumers who purchased motorhomes.   However, consumers should be aware of its limitations and applicability.  Consumers should take note of the limitations prior to contacting an Oregon Lemon Law Lawyer or Auto Fraud Lawyer.  If you have general questions about Oregon's lemon law click here.

Three Things You Should Know: 

Oregon's Lemon Law DOES apply to "Motor Homes" but not "Living Components:"  Oregon recently changed the lemon law to allow it to apply to new Motor Homes.  I don't know how many calls I get from folks who have purchased Motor Homes that have non-conformities.  This new change in the law is likely to result in a new arena of litigation.   Some New Motorhomes are plagued with water leaks, electrical issues, and issues with the living facility components (think flooring, plumbing fixtures, appliances, water heater, fabrics, door and furniture hardware, lighting fixtures, generators, airconditioning units, cabinets, furniture, etc.)   The Lemon Law only applies to some of these non-conformities. The law does NOT apply to any of the living facility components.  If your fridge doesn't keep the fish cold, the lemon law doesn't apply.  If your water heater explodes they day after purchase, the lemon law doesn't apply.  If the plumbing backs up the day after purchase the lemon law doesn't apply.  You get the point.  However, if the engine fails then it would apply.  If the roof Leaks, Oregon's lemon law may apply.    

Oregon's Lemon Law Does NOT Apply to Travel Trailers:  Oregon's lemon law only applies to "Motor Vehicles."  The law specifically excludes:  "a trailer, a camper, van or vehicle manufactured by an entity that primarily manufactures motor vehicles other than motor homes as defined by this subsection." 

The Prevailing Party May Be Awarded Costs Expert Fees, and Attorney Fees:  Oregon's lemon law allows for the prevailing party of a case involving a motor-home to be awarded costs, expert costs, and attorney fees.  This is important to note, because if a consumer loses their lemon law case they may be ordered to pay the manufacturer's costs and fees. This is different than a case involving a car or a truck. 

If you have questions about Oregon's Lemon Law or RV Dealer fraud call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  Ross Law PDX handles RV and Motorhome Lemon Law cases throughout Oregon.   Please remember this post is for informational purposes only and is not to be considered advice.  If you have any questions contact a lawyer and do not rely solely on this post.  This post can be considered attorney advertising. 

 

Bought a Lemon? Five Things To Know About Oregon's Lemon Law

Auto Fraud and Lemon Law cases are often tragic.  For many people, a vehicle is the biggest purchase of their lifetime.  They spend thousands of dollars on a vehicle and then the vehicle breaks down.   Most of these people hit the internet and attempt to learn as much as they can about Oregon's lemon law and become misinformed.  I field too many calls from uninformed or misinformed consumers.  The five issues below should dispell many myths about Oregon's Lemon Law and help consumers get a basic understanding of Oregon's lemon law.  Remember if you have questions about Oregon's Lemon Law call an Oregon Lemon Law attorney.

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1) Oregon's Lemon Law Only Applies in Very Limited Circumstances:  Oregon's lemon law does not cover all of Auto Fraud.  It only covers a limited number of vehicle purchases and has certain hurdles that a consumer must jump through.   Basically, Oregon's lemon law may apply if a person is a "consumer" (see below) under the lemon law; the new motor vehicle does not comply with the manufacturer's express warranties; the consumer reports each non-conformity to the manufacturer (think agent or authorized dealer), with the purpose of allowing the manufacturer to repair or correct the defect or non-conformity. The consumer must report the non-conformity during the two year period after the consumer took original delivery of the motor vehicle, or during a period that ends on the date which the vehicle's mileage reaches 24,000 miles, whichever ends first.  The law also requires the consumer to provide direct written notification to the manufacturer and provide the manufacturer the opportunity to correct the non-conformity.  A written request directed to the manufacturer for "informal dispute resolution" can be considered "Notification" to the manufacturer.   In summary, just because you bought a car that broke down does not mean it is a lemon.

2) Oregon's Lemon Law ONLY applies to NEW Vehicles:  Oregon's lemon law only applies to new vehicles.  The law specifically defines who a "consumer" is under the Lemon Law.  Oregon Law defines a "Consumer"  as,  " the purchaser or lessee, other than for purposes of resale, of a new motor vehicle used for personal, family or household purposes. "  The good news with this definition is that it means that the lemon law protects people that buy and lease vehicles.  The bad news for most people is that the law only applies to brand new vehicles.   That doesnt' mean people that bought used vehicles do not have a remedy.  They just can't use the lemon law.  Instead, they may have to bring an action under the Unlawful Trade Practices Act, Magnuson Moss Act, Contract Law, or common law Fraud.  

3) Oregon's Lemon Law Does NOT Give You An Automatic Opportunity to Unwind The Deal:  People often call and tell me they have a thirty day right to return their vehicle after the purchase.  Some consumers say they have three days to return the vehicle, but the dealer won't take the vehicle back.  In most cases that is incorrect.  Oregon's Lemon Law does NOT have a provision that permits a person to automatically unwind the deal within a specified period of time for any reason.   

4) The Vehicle is Presumed a Lemon In Some Circumstances (Think 3 repairs or 30 days):  Oregon's Lemon Law presumes that a vehicle is a lemon if either of the following occurs: 1) the manufacturer (agent or an authorized dealer) has been attempted to repair or coorrect the non-conformatiy three or more times and had an opportunity to cure the defect, OR; 2) the vehicle is out of service for more than 30 calendar days (60 Days for motor homes) for the purpose of making repairs, OR; 3) the non-conformity involves a defect that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury and the manufacturer (agent or authorized dealer) has had at least one chance to repair or corrcect the issue and made a final attempt to correct it and it still exists.   This presumption has certain time limitations and only applies if the manufacturer has received prior direct written notification from a consumer and had the chance to repair the defect.  If the presumption doesn't apply your vehicle may still be a lemon, it just becomes a more difficult case.  

5) If You Have a Lemon You May Receive A Substantial Amount of Money:  If the manufacturer forces the matter to court, did not act in good faith, and you win, then the manufacturer may have to pay the consumer up to three times the amount of any damages.  This amount is capped at $50,000.00 though.  The manufacturer may also be required to pay the consumer's court costs, expert fees, and attorney fees. This provision in the law permits lemon law lawyers, such as myself, to take these cases on a contingent fee

Auto Dealer Fraud and Oregon's lemon law is a complicated area of law.  The law is always changing and much of the rights and obligations of the parties are found in the contracts between them.   What this means is that most consumers are going to need to discuss their matter with a lawyer rather than jumping to conclusions after some brief internet research.  If you have questions call Oregon Lemon Law Lawyer, Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  Ross law handles Oregon Auto Fraud and Lemon Law cases in Portland, Salem, Astoria, Hood River, Pendleton, Umatilla, Medford, Roseburg, Bend, and throughout Oregon.

REMEMBER!!! There are exceptions to the five issues above and many of the areas addressed are considered gray areas.  Therefore PLEASE do not rely solely on this post.  The law is constantly changing.  This post is not intended to be legal advise and is attorney advertising. 

Ten Things You Should Know About Attorney Fees In Oregon:

As a Portland Oregon attorney, people often call me to ask how much it will cost for my firm to represent them.  This is a pretty good question and I am surprised that everyone doesn't ask it right away.  This is because attorney fees and costs in Oregon can vary dramatically from lawyer to lawyer.  Some large firms charge substantial hourly rates, while other firms can charge half that to perform the same task.  Legal Consumers should educate themselves before meeting with an attorney.   The list below should provide you with helpful information to educate yourself before hiring an attorney:

1:What Is The Difference Between a "Fixed Fee," "Hourly Fees", and a "Contingency Fee?"  

Fixed fees are fees that are paid to the lawyer to perform a specific task to represent you for a certain amount of time.  Many criminal lawyers charge a fixed fee.   For example, a lawyer that charges $1,500.00 to take DUII case up to trial would be charging a Fixed Fee.  The lawyer then may charge an additional fixed trial fee to represent the DUII client in the trial.  These fees are "earned upon receipt" and you would pay $1,500.00 for the lawyer to represent you and nothing more.   

An Hourly Rate is very common.  Many lawyers that represent business clients or persons with family law matters will often charge an hourly fee.  For example, the lawyer may spend three hours drafting a letter for you and charges $200.00 an hour.  You would pay the lawyer $600.00 for the service.  Most hourly rate attorneys will require a retainer.

A Contingency Fee is very common in Personal Injury cases.  With a contingency fee, the lawyer will not receive a payment unless the client collects money from the other side.    I represent people on a contingency fee in Personal  Injury cases and Crime Victim cases.   I also typically represent people who get ripped off by car dealers on a contingency basis.   Usually the attorney will get a percentage of the amount received by the other side. For example, if you received $100,000.00 from the other side before we filed a lawsuit I might receive a fee of 33% ($33,000.00) out of that $100,000.  I have a different model with the auto fraud cases.  

2:  Why is The Contingency Fee In Oregon Usually 33%?  There is not a specific reason for this.  However, the attorney is engaging in a risky en-devour.  The attorney in a contingency case is fronting their time and usually their money with the hopes they win and collect from the other side.  If the attorney loses your case the attorney will lose all the time and effort they put into the case.  The attorney or their law firm may also lose the thousands of dollars in costs that were paid on your behalf.  Also, the fee percentage may increase, because the risk of losing the case may increase.  

3:  What are "Costs" and Who Pays Them?  Costs are in addition to the attorney fee.   Costs are amounts that are paid to others to prosecute your case.  For example, if the attorney has to take depositions and have the depositions transcribed someone must pay the court reporter to do this.   Many attorneys have their clients pay costs, and demand a "retainer" (see below) to draw from.  In Personal Injury cases and Crime Victim cases my firm usually will front costs.  What this means is that I hope we win and then my firm will be reimbursed the costs out of any settlement or award.   In other words, the client does not have to pay anything for representation until after the trial in a personal injury or crime victim case unless we win.

4:  What is a Retainer?  A retainer is a lump sum the lawyer requires to draw funds out of.  Think of it as setting up a bank account with the lawyer.  Most hourly lawyers want a retainer, and some contingent fee attorneys want a retainer to pay costs.   They will bill a certain amount of hours and then send you an accounting at the end of the month.   For example, an attorney is representing you in a business dispute.  The attorney requests a $3,500.00 retainer.  The attorney charges $300.00 an hour and spent 10 hours on the case.  The attorney will be paid $3,000.00 out of the retainer.   The attorney also paid the court $500.00 to file the lawsuit.  As a result, the $3,500.00 retainer is gone.  Most likely the attorney will ask you to replenish the retainer and deposit another $3,500.00.  

5:  What Percentage Do Oregon Attorneys Typically Charge for a Contingency Fee?   Typically in personal injury cases and crime victim cases attorneys will charge 33% of the amount recovered.  However, most attorneys will increase the percentage charged as the case progresses.  For example, the attorney may charge 33% of any amount recovered before a lawsuit is filed.  The fee might jump up to 40% after a lawsuit is filed.  This is due to the fact a lot more work needs to be done after a lawsuit is filed.   

6:  I Don't Have Money To Pay An Attorney, Can I Still Get an Oregon Attorney?  That is a difficult question to answer, because it depends on the type of case you have.   If you have a personal injury case or a crime victim, then you probably can get an attorney even if you can't afford it.  This is because those cases are taken on a contingency.  Also, in Oregon a criminal defendant that does not have money for a lawyer may have the Judge appoint a lawyer for them.  However, if you have a family law case then you may not be able to obtain free representation.   Some organizations provide representation to people that cannot afford a lawyer.  Call me  at 503.224.1658 if you have an Oregon personal injury case, or you are a crime victim, or have an auto dealership fraud case. If you have another type of case you may want to call the Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 800-452-7636. 

7: Do Attorneys Negotiate Attorney Fees? Some people try and negotiate the attorney fee with the attorney.  For example, they may want an attorney to represent them in a personal injury case, but will not agree to pay a contingency of more than 25% of the amount recovered.  Most attorneys do not typically negotiate their attorney fee, but there are always exceptions.  

8:  How Will I Know if the Attorney is Charging a Contingency Fee?  The attorney must disclose what type of fee they are charging in a written fee agreement in Oregon.  In fact there is a law regarding what an attorney must do when entering in a contingency fee agreement.  (See ORS 20.340)  You should read the agreement carefully, it should be easy to read, the attorney should also explain it,  and you should ask questions.  

9:  Can I Back Out of An Attorney Fee Agreement After I Signed It?  Typically yes.  In fact, if you signed a personal injury contingency fee agreement you have the legal right to rescind the agreement within 24 hours after signing it. (see ORS 20.340) If you back out of a personal injury contingency fee it is important to remember to notify the lawyer in writing.  However, in other cases the attorney may still charge you for any work performed even if you back out.

10:  Will I Recover My Attorney Fees If I Win?  It depends.  Typically in Oregon the loser will have to reimburse you for your allowable costs.  However, unless their is a right to collect attorney fees under a law, a contract, or some other agreement you  will  usually not be able to recover your attorney fees from the other side.  Call me at 503.224.1658 to discuss what types of cases typically allow for recovery of attorney fees.   

 If you or someone you know has needs an Oregon Lawyer please contact attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  If Ross Law cannot assist you they will do their best to finds someone that can assist you or try and point you in the right direction.  

Please Read This Disclaimer!  Please remember that this information is not to be considered "legal advice" and you should always check with an attorney or the Oregon State Bar regarding the issues brought up in this post.  The law is always changing, so some things in this post may be out-dated.  Also, this post is intended for people who are seeking Oregon Attorneys.  Lastly this post, rosslawpdx.com, and this blog may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.  

Oregon Consumers Beware-Flooded Cars from Louisiana May Flood Into Oregon

Louisiana has recently suffered some of the worst flooding in the Nation's history.   At least 60,000 homes have been damaged and it is estimated at least 13 people died as a result of the flooding.  These are staggering numbers, and the destruction is anticipated to take months or years to clean up.  

It is difficult for us in Oregon to imagine how this flood could possibly affect us.  However, car buyer's need to beware because the numerous Louisiana cars that were flooded may be heading to Oregon.  These cars usually suffer from numerous electrical issues, power-train issues, and can often be plagued with mildew problems.  These issues can create a dangerous situation when the vehicle loses power and this can result in the injury or death to the driver and others on the road.

It is unknown how many flooded cars may be entering the markets, but there could be tens of thousands of vehicles flooding into the used car markets. Dealers can buy these cars at a reduced price, clean them up, and sell them to unknowing consumers.  Vehicles without a  "branded title" ( Branded Titles are basically titles that note"water damaged vehicle" or a "Salvaged Title") may be sold to an unknowing customer even though it has been in a flood.  This occurs when the dealer's attempts to conceal any water damage and sell the vehicle without disclosing the fact the vehicle is a flood car.

If the vehicle's title is "branded" or notes the vehicle is a water-damaged vehicle then the dealer may attempt to "wash" the title.  Louisiana Law notes that if a vehicle's electrical system or power train is damaged by flood damage and totaled by an insurance company as a result, then it will receive the "water damaged" brand on the title.  

 

Title washing can occur when a person purchases a vehicle with a salvaged title or a water-damaged title and registers it in a state that does not recognize that particular "brand" on the title.  The new state then issues a clear title and the vehicle can be sold anywhere in the United States and passed off as a clean title.   Some states make it easy to "wash" a title.  For instance some states will not issue a branded title to a vehicle that is more than 7 years old.  What that means is that a purchaser can buy an 8 year old vehicle with a water-damaged title in Louisiana and then register in the new state an receive an unbranded title.  Once the vehicle has an unbranded title it can be sold anywhere in the US as a "clean title" vehicle.  

Title washing can also take place when a person actually physically alters the title in an effort to conceal the "brand" on the title (think photo-shop or white-out).  This is more difficult to do, but it does occur.   This is big problem if the title is held by the bank, as the bank employee may not scrutinize the title as closely as they should. 

What you Can Do To Try And Ensure You Do Not Purchase a Flood Damaged Car:  It is important for Oregon Consumers to inspect any vehicle they may buy.  That great deal on Craigslist may actually be a terrible deal for a car that is plagued with electrical issues.   Oregonians should inspect the vehicle.  They should examine underneath the vehicle to ensure there are not any mineral deposits, a "silt line," or significant mud.  The headlights may have mud or debris lines inside of them.  The interior and trunk should be inspected for any discoloration that indicates flooding.  If the vehicle smells funny (either of mold or heavy chemicals) that may be an indication of flooding.  The consumer should turn on and off all of the lights and radio, and operate any electrical features (windows, sunroof, rear windshield wiper)to ensure they all function properly.  

The consumer should also pull a title history report from Carfax or AutoCheck to determine: 1) if the vehicle has a branded title, and 2) to determine if the vehicle is from Louisiana.  However, these reports are not always accurate so they shouldn't solely be relied upon.   If the vehicle was bought or sold at a "Copart" auction yard that is a big red flag that the vehicle had a salvaged title. These tips may assist consumer's in protecting themselves from buying a flood car, but it may not completely protect you.

If you or someone you know unknowingly purchased a "flood car" or a car with a branded title in Oregon then please call Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658.  Jeremiah Ross may be able to assist you with your consumer case in Oregon. 

 

 

 

 

Buy Here Pay Here-Questionable Auto Loans

As an Oregon Consumer Lawyer I regularly represent Oregonians who are ripped off by car dealers.  I regularly receive calls from consumers who has issues with Auto lenders.  These issues can relate to the interest rate being charged, yo-yo scams, issues with the financing disclosures, or dealers trying to make consumers provide false information in order to obtain financing.  Sometimes, in their effort to get the car off of the lot, dealers will flagrantly violate the various laws that apply to them.  Other times, the dealer's conduct is legal, but morally questionable.

I have seen this as a growing issue in Oregon.  I am not alone with my concerns.  It appears there is a national trend in providing questionable auto-loans to consumers.  These questionable loans are sometimes written with very high interest rates (29% APR) and for extremely long terms (7 years).  What this means is consumers buying an $8,000.00 car may end up paying almost $15,000.00 for the car after the interest is added into the price of the cars.

 

The dealer's justify the high interest and lengthy terms of the loan by asserting that the consumer is a huge credit risk.  Most of the consumers that obtain these loans have horrible credit and are likely to default on the loan.  I have litigated cases where the dealers have stated that my client's credit was terrible and that my clients were fortunate enough to have someone like the dealer take the chance to finance the vehicle. 

From the consumer's perspective, these loans set them up for failure.   The high interest rate for lengthy terms sets the consumer up for failure.  The dealer knows that most people need a car for transportation.  Vehicles are almost necessities in many cities.  Additionally, the dealer already knows the consumer has issues with paying creditors, because the consumer has terrible credit.  Despite that, the dealer piles on more debt in an effort to get the car off of the lot.  Then when the foreseeable missed payment happens then the dealer repossesses the car and can re-sell it to another customer.   

 The dealer makes money on the transaction by: 1) getting to keep the trade-in or down payment the consumer made on the car and, 2) keeping the interest on the loan from payments already made on the loan before missing a payment, 3) sometimes dealers will attempt to re-finance the purchased vehicle or agree to take the vehicle back if the consumer purchases another vehicle from the lot (this usually re-starts the cycle), 4) the dealer gets to re-sell the purchased vehicle to another consumer and make money on that transaction. 

Additionally, the dealer's risk is much more manageable than the dealer leads people to believe. Dealer's can place devices in the vehicles that allows the dealer to track the vehicle.  If a consumer misses a payment then the device can shut the vehicle down until a payment is made.  If the consumer fails to make a payment the dealer uses the device to locate the vehicle and repossess it.   I believe these devices are one thing that is allowing these bad loans to become more prevalent. 

The Comedian Jon Oliver recently did a great piece on Auto Lending and how these sub-prime loans are affecting consumers.  The piece has some shocking statistics and stories of people being ripped off by Auto Lenders.  

If you or someone you know has been ripped off or scammed by an Auto Dealer, please call Jeremiah Ross.  Please call Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658 .   Please remember there are some reputable and honest car dealers, and just because you have a questionable loan that does not mean the dealer broke any laws or you have a case against them.   

CLIENTS RECEIVE (ALMOST) FREE CARS AFTER BEING RIPPED OFF BY A DEALER!

Sometimes the stars align and I am able to achieve incredible results for my clients.   A recent case involving a car dealership that ripped off my clients is one of those instances where we somehow pulled off the impossible.  I don't know if I will be able to achieve the same results in a future case, but it feels good to make things right for my clients. 

My clients were ripped off in the purchase of two vehicles last year.   They had difficulty making payments on the vehicles and defaulted on the loans that totaled roughly $45,000.00.   Meanwhile we were involved in litigation with the dealership who denied any wrongdoing and attempted to paint my clients as deadbeats who could not pay their bills.   It took over a year to litigate the matter.  In the meantime, lenders were threatening to repossess the vehicles and sue for the deficiency.   

My clients prevailed in a private arbitration hearing, and the arbitrator awarded my clients over $40,000.00 plus attorney fees, and costs.  The award was based on the dealership violating Oregon's Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA) and the Truth In Lending Act. Punitive damages were sought, but not awarded.

  In an effort to escape being held accountable for the judgment, the dealer then claimed they were going to assert Bankruptcy.  When a dealership files for bankruptcy it can put a stay on any debt collection efforts, so the filing must be taken seriously.  This is where things became interesting and a lot of posturing occurred between the parties.   While the parties were posturing, I had researched the law on the various ways this may play out.

At the end of the day we were able to collect roughly $25,000.00 from the Bond Company.  The dealership agreed to purchase the vehicles from the lenders and relinquished title to the vehicles to my clients full and clear of any encumbrances. That is just a fancy way of saying the dealership agreed to give my clients the vehicles in exchange for my clients not collecting on the arbitration award.   The dealer has managed to avoid Bankruptcy so far. I am not going to divulge the intricacies and maneuvering that occurred to get this done.  However, I believe it is achievable again in a very limited amount of cases. 

If you have been ripped off by an Oregon car dealer, please call Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658.  Also, remember Jeremiah Ross also represents persons that are injured in car crashes, bicycle crashes, pedestrians that are injured by vehicles, and persons that are injured by the negligence of others.   Please call today for your free PERSONAL INJURY consultation.  REMEMBER: RESULTS MAY VARY!  Just because I could do this for two clients does not mean I will be able to achieve these results for any future clients.