Man believes Tyler Chevy dealership targeting Hispanics for additional fees

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Apr. 13, 2010, 7:40am

MARSHALL-A Hispanic man alleges a Tyler car dealership is unfairly marketing products with higher costs toward Hispanics.

Jesus Ortega filed suit against Peltier Chevrolet Inc. on April 1 in the Marshall division of the Eastern District of Texas.

These products include GAP insurance, credit insurance, theft protection and service contracts.

The suit states that the charges for these "soft adds" are a subjective, non-risk related upcharge which profit the dealership.

Ortega alleges the defendant encourages its employees to impose these charges as often as possible and to maximize the amount of the upcharge when possible, and alleges the marketing scheme has a disparate impact on Hispanic customers.

"Peltier maintains no monitoring, training, or other compliance components to prevent illegal disparate impact, despite overwhelming recognition throughout the credit industry of the dangers associated with subjective pricing systems in a commission-driven environment," the complaint states.

Further, the plaintiff accuses the defendant of conspiracy in charging a higher interest rate on his automobile loan.

Ortega argues the defendant is liable for violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, fraud, fraud by misrepresentation, fraud by concealment and negligent misrepresentation.

The plaintiff is seeking actual damages in the amount of the total soft charges add minus the average total soft charges for non-Hispanic customers, plus interest, attorneys' fees, actual and exemplary damages.

Attorneys Jeffrey L. Weinstein, James H. Owen, and Bonner C. Walsh of Jeffrey L. Weinstein P.C. in Athens is representing the plaintiff. Jury trial requested.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation.

Case No 2:10cv00118

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