BELLEVILLE - A Wal-Mart customer claims his truck's engine was damaged beyond repair during an oil change and is now being held until he pays a bill for diagnostic work.
Dwight E. Jones filed suit in St. Clair County Circuit Court against the retail giant and a Lebanon vehicle recovery company, Buhls Towing and Recovery, following his visit to the Wal-Mart on Greenmount in Belleville on April 3.
Wal-Mart is accused of violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act through unfair and deceptive practices, oppressive conduct, and breach of contract. Buhls, which was hired by the store to tow the 2002 Ford Explorer Sport Truck to its premises, is accused of conversion.
Jones alleges Buhls held the truck at its facility over a $97.76 bill for diagnostic work that the plaintiff alleges Wal-Mart promised to pay.
In his complaint, Jones claims he went to Wal-Mart for the oil change but that staff failed to secure the plug on the oil pan. As he drove back to his home in Lebanon, the plug dislodged, causing all of the oil to spill into the engine. He alleges the engine was damaged beyond repair, and that it will cost more than $7,000 to replace.
While the Record was not able to get a response from a representative of Buhls, the company has stated that the plaintiff authorized the diagnostic work, not Wal-Mart, according to the plaintiff's complaint itself. Further, according to the complaint, Buhls said the oil plug was in and the vehicle did have the correct amount of oil.
Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jones claims he asked Wal-Mart for the money to replace the engine, but it refused.
The Wal-Mart staff allegedly stated that the truck was safe to drive while concealing the fact the plug was loose, according to the complaint.
Jones added that the defendant's actions were "outrageous, wanton, willful" and therefore subject to punitive damages.
The plaintiff seeks the cost of the engine replacement, attorney fees of $20,000, and punitive damages of $200,000 from Wal-Mart.
As for Buhls, Jones argues the defendant has refused to return the vehicle, which is costing him $100 a week. He wants damages for the cost of the truck - which he estimates at $15,000 - an amount equal to $100 a week from April and going forward, and $100,000 as a punitive award.
He is represented by attorney David M. Duree of David M. Duree & Associates PC in O'Fallon.
St. Clair County Circuit Court Case number 19-L-536