Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Consumer Fraud Claim Against Large Automobile Dealership

We filed suit on behalf of our clients, husband and wife, against one of the largest automobile dealerships in New Jersey, along with the finance company, for fraud and misrepresentation, violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, violation of New Jersey Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Act, breach of contract, violation of the Duty of Good Faith and Unjust Enrichment, in connection with the purchase and financing of an automobile.

On November 26, 2010, our clients, who speak/understand very little English, went to the automobile dealership to purchase a vehicle. The purchase price of the vehicle was $13,595. The dealership then added on its own, without consent of our clients, a $4000 “Millennium package,” a $2300 “Service Contract and a $750 for “Gap Insurance.” Our clients indicated that they did not ask for nor want those items/services. Our clients then signed cancellation forms for the “Service Contract” and for the “Gap Insurance,” and were orally advised that $4000 for the “Millennium package” would be cancelled as well.

The dealership employees then prepared a retail installment contract dated November 26, 2010 without the $4000 “Millennium package,” the $2300 “Service Contract and the $750 for “Gap Insurance, which was acknowledged and signed by our clients.

However, without the permission, knowledge and/or consent of our clients, dealership employees then prepared a different retail installment contract containing the $4000 “Millennium package,” the $2300 “Service Contract and the $750 for “Gap Insurance, and forged our clients’’ signatures on the second retail installment sales contract, inflated the initial price of the vehicle from $13,585 to $15,020, then sent the second contract with the forged signatures to the finance company. Based on the forged second retail installment contract, the finance company provided a vehicle loan to the plaintiffs’ containing $10,954.44 in fraudulent/excessive charges and taxes.

The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act permits treble damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs for conducts constituting an unconscionable commercial practice, fraud and misrepresentation. The New Jersey RICO also provides similar damages and recovery for racketeering activities. Punitive damages are separately available for forgery. Forgery is also a criminal act.

This case was resolved satisfactorily in a confidential settlement agreement.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Case Against Bergen County Home Improvement Contractor for Violation of Consumer Fraud Act

We brought suit against a Bergen County Home Improvement contractor (HIC) for violation of the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) and the Home Improvement Practices in connection with the installation of an HVAC system in our client’s home (the homeowner).

The homeowner entered into a contract with the HIC to replace her existing HVAC’s heat pump inside the home and the condenser located outside of her home. HIC charged the home homeowner $5,995 for parts and labor in connection with the home improvement contract. They advised the homeowner to make the check payable to “cash,” instead of their business name, a violation of the Home Improvement Practices and the CFA.

The HIC did not provide homeowner with any written home improvement contract, in violation the Home Improvement Practices.

The HIC did not obtain any building, plumbing, electrical or any other permits as required by the Township of North Bergen, prior to, during or after the installation of the home improvements, in violation of the Home Improvement Practices.

The HIC did not provide the homeowner with a copy of any township inspection certificates after completing construction and prior to receiving final payment, in violation of the Home Improvement Practices, 13:45A-16.2. In fact, the HIC advised the homeowner not to contact the Township’s building department for an inspection.

The HVAC system installed by the HIC subsequently failed to operate as intended. The homeowner repeatedly attempted to communicate with the HIC to fix problem, but each time HIC refused to honor its service guarantees and failed to return the homeowner’s home to correct the defects.

The homeowner then retained another contractor to repair the unit installed by the HIC. The second contractor advised the homeowner that the heating system installed by the HIC did not have a heating kit as needed to generate heat. The contractor explained to the homeowner that the HIC’s installation of the HVAC system was analogous to “buying a car without an engine.”

After we filed suit against the HIC for violating the CFA and various provisions of the Home Improvement Practices Act, the HIC agreed to reimburse the homeowner all her out-of-pocket expenses, reimbursement of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, and reimbursement of funds paid to the second contractor.

The CFA permits the recovery of treble damages of ascertainable loss, plus reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. “Ascertainable loss” in the context of a home improvement contract may be measured by the costs incurred in correcting a defect. However, even if there is no proof of ascertainable loss, the consumer will be entitled to the recovery of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs if the contractor violates any provision of the Home Improvement Practices. The CFA was intended to encourage compliance with laws and regulations intended to protect consumers.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pregnancy Discrimination Case Against Human Resources Consulting Firm

A pregnancy discrimination case was filed against a human resource (HR) consulting firm that publishes HR magazines for the corporate world. The HR company terminated our client's employment after she inquired about certain benefits related to her pregnancy. Our client was employed by the company for more than three (3) years. The company claimed that our client was fired because her position was eliminated, a claim often made by employers after termination. After less than 1 year of continuous denial of the claim, and vigorous defense in litigation, the company resolved the suit in a confidential settlement agreement favorable to the plaintiff.

Both Title VII and New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits an employer from taking any adverse action against an employee (or potential employee) on account of pregnancy.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Race and Ethnic Discrimination Case Filed Large New Jersey Hospital.


Our client, a US Citizen of Arab background and a Muslim, alleged that he suffered ethnic and race discrimination by his co-workers and supervisors.  He alleged that over a period of 3 years his supervisors and co-workers referred to him as a terrorist,” a “towel-head,” “camel jockey,” “bomb maker,” asking him whether he had any “explosives,” commenting that they will “bury him with his Quran,” stating that “all the Arabs are terrorists,” that  You are not an American. You’re an Egyptian that lives in America. Big difference,“  that “You know what? They should nuke the fucking Middle East and Kill everybody and take the oil,” commenting on hos Facebook profile page “How is the flying lessons going” and “KABOOM,”  referring to actual terrorists using planes in an act of terror, and other  offensive slurs and comments.
        He alleged that he complained to upper-management and was told he had no witnesses or evidence. Another upper management said to him that people say stupid things” and that he should “let it go.” He then began to tape record most of the discriminatory comments.  In addition to the above comments, a co-worker was heard on the tape stating “What’s up you fucking Terrorist? How many virgins you get if you become a suicide bomber?"  A co-worker  was heard on the tapes saying “Do you have any explosives on you?  “What you buy with your money C4 explosives,”   and his supervisor was heard saying "What's Up Terrorists?” then approached our client and said let me just pat you down to make sure you have no vest … [and while patting our client’s] ok... good.” 
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) protects the employee who sufferers from an abusive and intolerable working environment which caused him/her to suffer as a result.  An employee should not be placed in a situation where he or she comes to work each day to earn a salary to take care of his/her family, only to be subjected to harsh insults and ridicule.  A joke, if even intended as such, ends when feelings are hurt. The goal of employment discrimination laws is a discrimination free workplace.
          After more than 2 years in litigation,  as true in virtually all employment discrimination cases, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case arguing there was insufficient evidence.  A judge denied the motion. The case was resolved in a private confidential settlement on the eve of trial.

Chatarpaul Law Offices, P.C.
(201) 222-0123

Sexual Harassment Case Against NYC Restaurant

We filed suit on behalf of three restaurant employees who were terminated for complaining about their supervisor's sexual harassment of another co-worker. Title VII, New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law, prohibit an employer from retaliating against any employee who complains about discriminatory treatment to himself/herself or to another employee.
An employer may not fire, terminate, layoff, demote, transfer, reassign or otherwise take any adverse action against an employee for complaining about discriminatory treatment.

After almost 2 years of litigation, the restaurant agreed to compensate the fired employees for the damages they suffered as a result of unlawful termination.