Car Dealer Accused of a Multitude of Sins

     GALLUP, N.M. (CN) — A Nissan dealer sold a new car to a homeless schizophrenic Navajo woman who had no driver’s license, no insurance, and no understanding of the sales contract she signed, the woman’s representative claims in court.
     Mary Tsosie, 62, lives in a group home in Gallup, on the edge of the immense Navajo reservation. She has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which is “immediately apparent to anyone who meets her,” according to the complaint. “Ms. Tsosie’s schizophrenia affects her ability to understand transactions like car sales, as well as her ability to drive a vehicle.”
     Nonetheless, in December 2015, Corley Nissan in Gallup sold her a new 2016 Versa for $17,500 — $2,000 more than the advertised sticker price, according to the April 15 lawsuit in McKinley County Court. It charged her another $2,275 for “a nearly worthless service contract that was redundant with the manufacturer’s warranty,” the complaint states.
     The 11-page lawsuit details a litany of alleged abuses by the defendants: Corley Nissan, its employees Gabriel Anderson and Christopher “T-Bone” Williams, auto finance company Santander Consumer USA, and the car dealer’s bonding company Platte River Insurance.
     Tsosie’s next friend Laura Jijon claims Corley prepared and submitted a false credit application to Santander, lying about her income, her employment, whether she had a driver’s license and whether she qualified for liability insurance and credit.
     The deceptions were gross, obvious and abusive, according to the complaint: “Since Ms. Tsosie had no driver’s license and was ineligible for car insurance, Corley salesperson Gabriel Anderson obtained an insurance policy which identified himself as the driver.
     “The insurance policy specifically excluded Ms. Tsosie as a driver.
     “Corley knew that Ms. Tsosie was uninsured and had no driver’s license when it allowed her to driver away with the Versa.
     “Ms. Tsosie did not understand that she was uninsured. Corley provided her with insurance cards to further its deception.”
     Tsosie lives on Social Security disability payments of $733 a month. The sales contract calls for 72 monthly payments of $464.92 — 63.4 percent of her monthly income.
     Defendant Santander then “either expected to or did securitize Ms. Tsosie’s loan,” the complaint states. “In other words, Santander transferred Ms. Tsosie’s loan, along with many others, to a trust, in return for payment. The loans were then used as collateral for bonds sold to investors.
     “Like Corley’s assignment of Ms. Tsosie’s loan to Santander, Santander’s securitization of this loan and others allows Santander to make a quick profit. It allows Santander to transfer the risk of nonpayment to unsuspecting investors.”
     When Tsosie, as could have been predicted, was unable to make the payments, and Jijon and other community members “uncovered the fraud” and tried to help her, “Corley employees, including Chris ‘T-Bone’ Williams, intimidated and harassed Ms. Tsosie’s benefactors, including coming in person to Ms. Jijon’s work,” according to the complaint.
     Jijon calls the behavior “malicious, willful, reckless, wanton, fraudulent, and in bad faith.”
     Tsosie is represented by Nicholas Mattison with Feferman & Warren in Albuquerque, who seeks punitive damages for fraud, conspiracy, unfair trade, privacy invasion, unjust enrichment, tortious debt collection, and breach of fiduciary duty.
     Corley Nissan could not be reached for comment after business hours Tuesday.

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