BELLEVILLE - A car dealership is facing accusations it used the small print of a sales contract to deliberately force a buyer to default.
John Rose filed a lawsuit Nov. 12 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Cahokia Motors and its owner over the sale of a 2008 used car.
He is alleging violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and fraud following his purchase of the 2008 Pontiac Torrent from the dealership. He also names Dennis Fults as an individual defendant.
The complaint states that Rose bought the car on Dec. 22 for $5,495. The total price, after a $20 documentary fee, sales tax of $345 and a registration payment of $196, was $6,056, with $2,000 cash down.
Rose signed a sales agreement that required him to pay back the remaining over $4,000 at $200 a month over 21 months.
However, the car buyer claims another part of the contract included other amounts, including a finance charge and a payment of $553 on Jan. 5, 2019, which is described as being part of the down payment.
"Defendant, Cahokia Motors, Inc., also required plaintiff to sign a document authorizing Cahokia Motors, Inc. to take the automobile without a Court Order if Plaintiff should fail to make any payment or any part of any payment due on the loan," according to the complaint.
The suit notes that Rose "is a person of modest means and limited education, living paycheck to paycheck."
It was the buyer's understanding that he was to pay the $2,000, then $200 a month beginning Feb. 5. By early June he had paid more than $1,000, which he believed satisfied the terms of the deal. But Rose did not pay, and claims he had no idea it was in the contract, the $553.
The suit alleges, "Cahokia Motors deliberately schedules a large, one-time, payment shortly after the initial down payment (the second down payment) for the purpose of then repossessing the automobile and either retaining possession, and the initial down payment and initial monthly payments, or charging the customer a large fee for the repossession."
"Cahokia Motors, Inc. has a huge number of repossessions each year and, on numerous occasions, the automobiles are returned to the customers after they pay an exorbitant repossession fee," it is alleged.
The defendants are accused of engaging in "unfair and/or deceptive acts or practices" by using deception, fraud, false promises, and suppression of facts.
Rose is asking for $3,155, the amount paid to Cahokia Motors and states that the loss of the vehicle at $200 a week totals more than $20,000. He wants the amount he paid, $500,000 in punitive damages, and $25,000 in attorney fees.
The plaintiff is represented by David M. Duree of David M. Duree &, Associates of O'Fallon.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 2019-L-794.