A North Carolina Chrysler-Jeep store is facing punitive damages from a lawsuit claiming its finance manager committed identity theft.
The lawsuit was filed against Dixie Motor Co. alleging that a female manager, who no longer works at the Williamston N. C. Dealership, illegally disclosed confidential credit file information to a friend in prison and also used customer information to falsify credit application.
The suit was filed by Ashley Owens and her mother, claiming the dealership violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act As Well as state identity theft, negligence, contract and deceptive trade practices law.
The dealership’s attorney, Mary Webb, told auto news she was unable to discuss the case because of ongoing litigation. However, according to the lawsuit, in October 2011 Owens filed an application to obtain financing on a 2010 Dodge Charger at the dealership. Her mother had previously bought a 2004 Chrysler Pacifica at the same location.
As part of the application process the finance manager ordered a credit report and attempted to persuade Owens to sign up for credit repair service from a separate company that she ran. Owens refused the service and subsequently Dixie rejected the credit application so Owens did not buy the Charger.
Additionally, the finance manager pulled Owens’ mother’s personal information from the earlier vehicle purchase and also sent it to the inmate. She also used the information to a falsify credit application and obtain a credit report without authorization.
Owens became threatened by the inmate and was concerned that he would pass her information along to other inmates. She then called the police who investigated the incident. During the investigation, the suit claims the finance manager told the police she accidentally sent a credit file to the inmate and disclosed the contents the credit report to police without Owens consent.
The suit claims the two women “have suffered emotional distress, anxiety, depression, neurosis, phobia and paranoia from dealing with this matter.”
Rejecting a request by the dealership to dismiss the case, US District Judge Lewis Flanagan said that plaintiff’s allegations of “severe emotional distress” are sufficient to remain an element of the case even without a formal medical diagnosis.
The trial is tentatively set for November.
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