Man's suit claims auto ownership mix up led to false imprisonment

Kelly Holleran Nov. 11, 2009, 3:29pm

A man claims he was wrongly arrested, held in jail for 34 days and charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle despite the fact that he paid for the car he was driving.

Robert D. Andrews filed a lawsuit Nov. 9 in Jefferson County District Court against Mike Smith Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Group 1 Automotive, Coy LaSalle and Rob Rodgers.

Andrews claims he purchased a 1999 Lincoln Continental from Mike Smith Chrysler Dodge Jeep on Oct. 6, 2008, after getting approved for financing through Credit Acceptance Corporation and after paying a $500 cash deposit.

"On the evening of Dec. 23, 2008, to the utter shock and disbelief of the Plaintiff that this would, or could happen, Mr. Andrews was pulled over in Houston, Texas, and subsequently arrested for the Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle � a felony," the suit states.

Days after Andrews' arrest, Mike Smith Chrysler Dodge Jeep retracted its complaint and filed a complainant's refusal to file charges with the Beaumont Police Department.

"To Mr. Andrews' detriment, no one from the Beaumont Police Department shared this information with the Houston Police Department and Mr. Andrews spent the next 34 days in Harris County jail because of inability to meet the high bail set in the matter," the complaint says.

While he was in jail, Andrews received numerous tickets for improper use of dealer's tags and incurred substantial fines and warrants for failing to appear in court, he claims.

The arrest happened because LaSalle filed a complaint with the Beaumont Police Department against Andrews for the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on the same day of Andrews' arrest, the complaint says.

Before his arrest, Andrews made repeated requests for the title to his vehicle, but Mike Smith Chrysler Dodge Jeep refused to transfer the title to him, the complaint says.

Andrews alleges failure to deliver credit documents, failure to deliver title, improper use of dealer's tags, failure to provide notice of adverse action, false report to a police officer, conversion of Andrews' property, false imprisonment, conversion of Andrews' deposit, defamation of character and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Andrews is seeking an unspecified judgment, plus costs, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief the court deems just.

Timothy S. Hart of the Law Offices of Timothy S. Hart in Houston will be representing him.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: A185-302.

More News