A judge ordered a Mid-Michigan dealership can reopen while the dealership appeals the state’s decision to suspend its license.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced Friday, May 11 that Patsy Lou Chevrolet in Flint Township has had its dealer license suspended for 15 days after inspections and consumer complaints, including not providing titles to buyers as required by law.
“Despite multiple attempts to address the dealership’s violations without a suspension, the owner and the department were unable to reach an agreement, and Department of State staff then was forced to seek this penalty,” Johnson said. “Our duty is to protect consumers by holding dealers accountable for their actions. State law applies equally to all auto dealers, whether they’re small used-car lots or large new-vehicle dealerships. No dealer is above the law.”
The investigation stems from a consumer complaint from December 2016. The woman said she didn’t receive a title for her vehicle, and investigators found not only had the buyer not received the title after two months, but the paperwork submitted after the sale by the dealership allegedly contained false information.
“Additionally, the dealership gave the buyer a dealer plate in the interim because she was unable to title and register her vehicle to get a license plate. Dealer plates are supposed to be used only by the dealership for business purposes,” the state said in a press release.
The state had also received similar no-title complaints from customers that resulted in a 12-month probation for the dealership beginning in May 2015.
State law requires a dealer to make an application for title and registration within 15 days of delivery of the vehicle. Without a valid title, the buyer won’t be able to prove ownership of the vehicle and won’t be able to register it to get a license plate.
The dealership is operated by Patsy Lou Williamson and Ted Merrill Gans. It’s located at 5135 Corunna Road and sells new and used vehicles.
The dealership is appealing the suspension and Circuit Court Judge Geoffrey Neithercut granted an emergency stay allowing the dealership to reopen until further notice of the court pending the outcome of the appeal.
“It is further ordered that the Secretary of State shall take all action necessary to immediately permit appellant to reopen its dealership in the Township of Flint, including but not limited to removal of the Secretary of State’s signage at appellant’s dealership, reactivating all dealer plates, instructing the Secretary of State to process all sales for the dealership and take all other steps to allow appellant’s dealership to reopen for business immediately,” the order stated.
Neithercut also ordered the Secretary of State shall not take any action to enforce the suspension until further notice from the court.
"This order comes as a surprise to the department. We were not provided any notice of court action or an opportunity to appear before the court. We believe that once we have an opportunity to go before the court to present evidence, we will ultimately prevail," said Fred Woodhams, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of State. "The suspension order that went into effect this morning was sound and appropriate based on the multitude of evidence of the dealership's violations."
Consumers who have a complaint against Patsy Lou Chevrolet are encouraged to call the Office of Investigative Services automotive complaint line at 517-335-1410.
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