AG’s suit claims used car dealer sold vehicles without clear titles

LITTLE ROCK — A Greenbrier used car dealership sold dozens of vehicles to customers without providing them with clear titles to the vehicles, state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel claimed in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

The lawsuit accuses Carco of Arkansas Inc. and its owner, J. Eric Turner, of violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Used Motor Vehicle Buyer Protection Act.

The complaint filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court contends Carco and Turner have in at least 59 instances failed to deliver a title at the time of sale. Many times, Carco was not itself in possession of a vehicle’s title because it had not fully paid for the cars it acquired from other dealers, such as auto auctions, before placing the cars for sale on its own lot, the complaint said.

McDaniel also alleges Carco did not pay off in a timely fashion the balances on trade-ins it had taken from consumers, exposing the consumer trading the vehicle to liability and financial trouble, and preventing Carco from providing clear title to the next buyer.

“Vehicle owners are in an unmanageable position when they do not possess clear title to a car they’ve purchased,” McDaniel said. “Without a title, a buyer can’t register a car and legally drive it, and the buyer cannot obtain insurance for the vehicle. This practice is not acceptable, and the court should make sure that it does not continue.”

A man who answered the telephone at Carco on Thursday said he was a salesman at the dealership and that Turner had been in business in Greenbrier for a decade.

“I know that he’s bought some cars and the title has come in late and he’s given them to the customers,” Jones said.

Turner did not immediately return a message left for him at the dealership seeking comment.

According to McDaniel’s complaint, Carco did not fully pay for the cars it sold from its lot, so the dealers from which Carco purchased vehicles refused to turn over titles to Carco. When consumers bought the same cars from Carco, the dealership assured buyers that titles would be delivered shortly after sale. However, the defendants knew at the time they provided those assurances that they could not keep that promise.

It has taken the defendants an average of five months from the date of sale to deliver titles to consumers, the lawsuit stated.

McDaniel asked the court to issue an injunction prohibiting Carco and Turner from continuing business practices that the attorney general claimed are deceptive. The complaint also seeks civil penalties and restitution to consumers.