The state’s ten-count complaint, filed this March in State Superior Court in Morris County, alleged that RLMB and its manager, Michael L. Bloom, Sr., violated the Consumer Fraud Act, the Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations, the Automotive Sales Regulations, the Used Car Lemon Law (UCLL) and UCLL regulations by advertising used motor vehicles for sale without disclosing to consumers the vehicle’s prior damage or prior use; selling vehicles “as is” when they qualified for a warranty; and permitting third parties to advertise, offer for sale and/or sell used motor vehicles on Craigslist that were titled to RLMB.
The defendants failed to file a response to the complaint, resulting in Judge Stephan C. Hansbury entering a Final Judgment by Default.
The judgment requires the defendants to pay $640,000 in civil penalties, $31,200.91 in reimbursement to the State for its legal and investigative costs and $22,445 in restitution to seven consumers. By the terms of the Final Judgment by Default, the dealership must comply with all applicable State laws and regulations in its business practices.
“The penalty ordered in this matter is appropriate and should send a clear message to all motor vehicle dealerships that violating our consumer protection laws and regulations comes at a steep price,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “We are continuing to review the practices of new and used motor vehicle dealers to ensure consumers are not taken advantage of.”
“The evidence presented to the court by the Division of Consumer Affairs, resulted in a favorable decision for consumers,” said Acting State Director of Consumer Affairs Steve Lee said. “Dealerships must not withhold information from consumers that the dealerships are required by law to provide.”
The State, in its filed complaint, alleged that RLMB:
- Failed to provide consumers with title and registration to used motor vehicles prior to the expiration of temporary title and/or registration;
- Required that consumers sign blank sales documents;
- Offered used motor vehicles for sale at the dealership location that did not have prominently displayed the Federal Trade Commission Used Car Buyers Guide, a document which, among other things, indicates whether such vehicle comes with a warranty;
- Offered for sale used motor vehicles that did not have the total selling price conspicuously posted;
- Advertised and/or offered for sale used motor vehicles through the RLMB website, without the required statement that “price(s) include(s) all costs to be paid by a consumer, except for licensing costs, registration fees and taxes;”
- Failed to itemize documentary service fees; and
- Since at least 2007, failed to pay the $.50 administrative fee for each used motor vehicle sold, as required by the UCLL and UCLL regulations.