The Nevada attorney general's office has dropped its deceptive trade practices suit against Tire Works Total Car Care, saying the state's consumer affairs division's case against the retailer was exaggerated in large part because it allowed a local TV station to be involved in the undercover probe.
The consumer affairs office was disbanded during the most recent Nevada legislative session.
In turn Tire Works agreed to drop its countersuit against the state's Department of Business and Industry, according to the attorney general's office, and entered into an Assurance of Compliance that it will act in accordance with all requirements under Nevada law pertaining to the repair of automobiles.
In announcing the dismissal, Nevada Senior Deputy Attorney General Robert Giunta said, The complaints against Tire Works represented only a tiny fraction of the automotive complaints received by the state and represented a miniscule number of cases relative to the total number of customers that Tire Works has served.
The Consumer Affairs Division's decision to permit the news media to accompany them on the compliance checks was the reason the case was so exaggerated and received so much publicity. The net effect was that the allegations were made to appear much larger than they were.
The investigation and compliance checks leading to the original lawsuit in March 2009 were conducted by the Nevada Consumer Affairs Division (NCAD), not the Attorney General's office.
In the original action, filed against Morpheus Investment Inc., the holding company of Tire Works owners Roshie and Jeff Weightman, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said businesses that use deceptive trade practices to scam the public should be on notice that the state will investigate and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. We will work to suspend their privilege to do business in Nevada.
The lawsuit had alleged 23 separate incidents of deceptive practices at 11 of Tire Works' locations, including charges the dealership had misrepresented that parts and services were of a particular standard, quality or grade when they were not; that it advertised goods or services with the intent not to sell them as advertised; that it had made false or misleading statements of fact concerning the price of goods for sale; that it had made false representations in sales transactions; and that Tire Works had failed to make delivery of goods or services within a reasonable time or to provide refunds and had not restored payments made for transactions subsequently rescinded.
The Weightmans had denied the charges.
What also influenced the office's decision to dismiss the suit was the Consumer Affairs Division's decision to sell the vehicle used in the compliance checks after it referred the case to the attorney general's office for prosecution, the office said. This prevented the parties involved from inspecting the vehicle and, subsequently, deprived Tire Works of the immediate opportunity to clear the company's reputation, the office said.
This led the attorney general's office to dismiss voluntarily the counts in its complaint pertaining to the compliance checks.
The remaining issues pertained to a handful of concerns that were better suited for small claims court, Mr. Guinta said.
As far as my office is concerned, this settlement brings this matter to a conclusion, Ms. Masto said.
Ms. Weightman, Tire Works chief financial officer, said the attorney general's office told her in retrospect the number of complaints against Tire Works was less than 0.01 percent of the number of customers the 13-store chain has served.
In a statement, she said Tire Works suffered millions in lost revenue and had to put its expansion plans on hold.
Tire Works is weighing its options pertaining to a lawsuit against KTNV Channel 13 in Las Vegas, which aired a series of highly critical stories on the dealership based on the consumer affairs investigation.
In particular, Ms. Weightman accuses KTNV reporter Darcy Spears of disregarding the facts in the case and airing misguided stories that almost single handedly wrecked a business with 130 employees.
KTNV teamed with the consumer affairs office to film much of the office's investigation, which involved taking an undercover car to various Tire Works locations for repair estimates. At each of the stores, the NCAD alleged, unnecessary service repairs were recommended following an inspection that was not in accordance with industry standards required to render a professionally recognized estimate.
The Weightmans opened their first Tire Works store in North Las Vegas in late 2003, moving there from California where Jeff Weightman had worked for several tire dealerships.
Wheel Works. He began in the tire business in 1979 as a tire installer at a Winston Tire Co. store in California before moving on to AKH Co. Inc./Discount Tire Centers in 1987. He stayed there until 1995 before moving on to Wheel Works.
The dealership lists itself as a Bridgestone/Firestone Affiliated Dealer but also carries Continental, Falken, General, Hankook, Pirelli and Yokohama tires, along with custom wheels.
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