Judge Dismisses SF Piano Racketeering Case

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge again dismissed a class action accusing a San Francisco piano salesman of defrauding clients of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
     The October 2014 lawsuit by lead plaintiffs Matthew Figures and Colleen Devlin accused Tibor Szabo, owner of Hayes Valley’s Salle Pianos & Events, of accepting deposits on classical pianos but never delivering the goods.
     Figures claimed the businessman tricked him into paying a $6,000 deposit to buy a piano the defendants didn’t actually have, according to court documents.
     Szabo has been sued several times, according to Courthouse News and San Francisco Superior Court records.
     Devlin also accused Szabo of sexual and physical assault after a musical event at Salle in September 2014.
     The case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge James Donato in January for failing to adequately allege fraud. The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint soon after.
     On May 4, U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam dismissed the case again, ruling that the complaint’s racketeering cause of action is “untimely” because the case was filed more than four years after Figures should have become aware that he’d been allegedly defrauded by Szabo.
     “Because Figures did not file suit until Oct. 21, 2014, his claim is barred by the four-year RICO statute of limitations,” the judge wrote.
     By Figures’ own admission in his first amended complaint, Figures “began to come to the conclusion that the piano for which he had paid the deposit was not going to be delivered” in May or June 2010, Gilliam wrote.
     But while Figures spent months after that filing formal complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the San Francisco District Attorney’s consumer protection department – and discovering other alleged victims – he waited more than four years to file a civil complaint despite knowing by at least August 2010 it was the only way to get his money back, the judge said.
     The judge said that further amendment of the federal racketeering claims would be futile and dismissed them with prejudice.
     Gilliam also declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiffs’ assault and unfair competition claims, which fall under state law, and dismissed them without prejudice.

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