Retailer Tire Works Total Car Care of Las Vegas has filed a countersuit against the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, Consumer Affairs Division, accusing it of interfering with the dealership's ability to conduct business, abuse of process and misuse of civil process.
Tire Works is being sued by Nevada's attorney general over alleged deceptive trade practices.
The dealershipincorporated in Nevada as Morpheus Investment Inc. and doing business as Tire Worksalso is suing for defamation Robin Roques, a mechanic employed by Nevada who participated in the state's undercover investigation of Tire Works.
In addition, Morpheus owners Jeff and Roshie Weightman are suing Jacob, an unidentified individual, whom the Weightmans claim posted a false and defamatory comment about them on a local television station's Web site.
Jacob claimed to be a former Tire Works employee.
In its counterclaims, Morpheus charges the Consumer Affairs Division failed to concede and recognize that several of its allegations were based on consumer complaints that had been investigated and resolved. The company further claims the division had notified it that Tire Works had not violated any of the statutory provision that the division now accuses Tire Works of violating in several cases.
In its counterclaim, Morpheus says six of the 23 customer complaints cited in the division's suit already have been litigated in civil court. Five were dismissed and one resulted in a fine of $231.11, the company said.
Morpheus also accuses the division of improper and unethical teaming-up with a local news channel to investigate Tire Works. This action exhibits the division's intent to try its case in the court of public opinion well before Tire Works can exonerate itself in a court of law.
Each of the three suitsfiled in Clark County (Nevada) District Courtseeks damages and punitive damages in excess of $10,000 as well as attorney's fees and costs and such other and further relief as may be deemed appropriate by the court.
We are in automotive repair; our team knows that people sometimes suspect the worst of the auto repair industry, but the truth is, we have a very positive track record with repeat customers, Ms. Weightman said in a prepared statement.
These allegations have made us out to look like something we absolutely are not. I believe the public will be fair. We believe that people will remember that we have already been found innocent in many of these cases.
The Nevada Attorney General's office filed suit March 30 in Clark County (Nevada) District Court seeking to stop Tire Works from doing business in the state because of alleged deceptive trade practices.
The filing of the lawsuit followed months of complaints by consumers about alleged unfair and deceptive trade practices at Tire Works involving automotive repair and maintenance at 11 of the dealership's 13 stores in the Las Vegas area and an undercover investigation conducted by the Consumer Affairs Division.
In its suit against Jacob, the Weightmans said this individual's accusations of illegal drug use by the couple had cost them one account worth more than $100,000 in annual business and had caused a developer and banks working with the couple on developing four new retail sites to withdraw their support for those projects.
The Weightmans intend to ask the court to subpeona the local TV station, KTVN-TV, for its records regarding the April 14 Web posting attributed to Jacob in order to ascertain the individual's true identity.
Fair comment is fair comment, I have no problem when someone expresses an opinion, said Dominic Gentile of the law firm Gordon Silver. I may not like their opinion, but I will fight for a person to express themselves.
But when a station gives a forum for someone to libel our client, I have to respond. We are preparing to get to the bottom of the comments on the Channel 13 blog; we are going to find out who made those libelous comments.
Regarding Mr. Roques, the state's expert mechanic, Mr. Gentile said he may know something about car repair, but when he goes on television and starts acting as judge and jury and making libelous claims my hand is forced. We are suing to restore my client's reputation.
The Weightmans' suitwhich identifies Mr. Roques as being employed by the College of Southern Nevada as director of automotive technologynotes that shortly after a newscast began in which Mr. Roques was filmed undercover at a Tire Works outlet, the state's expert mechanic concluded, 'It's fraud, OK. They're selling stuff that is unneeded services, and they're just taking money from the public and giving the auto repair industry a bad name.
They claim Mr. Roques profited from his false and defamatory statement, having been paid by the division and/or (the) KTNV-TV for his statement. Because the defendant's conduct has damaged plaintiff in an amount exceeding $10,000, the specific amount to be proven at trial, the couple's suit says they are therefore entitled to punitive damages in excess of $10,000.