Texas furniture store faces lawsuit

Bryan Cohen Aug. 30, 2011, 5:17am


LAREDO (Legal Newsline) - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced a lawsuit on Monday against a Laredo, Texas, furniture store and its owners for allegedly violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Collezione Decor LLC allegedly failed to deliver furniture to customers who paid in advance for their purchases.

The lawsuit names Collezione Decor LLC and owners Elsa Valdez Slaney and Thomas Slaney and Elsa Valdez Slaney, doing business as Elsa's Boutique, El Bazar Market and Picture Factory, as defendants.

Collezione Decor and the other defendants allegedly sold furniture to customers, promising to deliver the purchases on a specific date. The defendants then failed to deliver the furniture. When customers did not receive the purchased items and demanded a refund, the defendants allegedly denied the customers' requests.

One alleged victim testified that she and her husband purchased more than $10,000 in furniture from Collezione Decor in February, paying for the furniture with a personal check. Elsa Slaney allegedly called the customers and claimed the buyer's check did not clear because inadequate funds were in the buyer's bank account. The customers then provided cash for the furniture. When the customer asked Slaney for the check that bounced, Slaney allegedly claimed the check was still at the bank.

"When we tried to put a stop payment on the original check, we found out that Elsa Slaney had already cashed the check, which we did not authorize her to do," the woman said in an affidavit. "Elsa Slaney collected a total of $20,431.58 in cash and check."

Abbott is seeking penalties of up to $20,000 for each DTPA violation.

In addition to the state's civil enforcement action, the Slaneys are also facing a criminal investigation related to their allegedly unlawful conduct. The Laredo Police Department has more than 27 consumer complaints against the Slaneys' business. The Webb County district attorney has filed felony theft charges against the store and its owners.

At the state's request, a Webb County district judge has also issued a temporary restraining order and froze the defendants' assets on Wednesday.

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