A Philadelphia car dealer sold vehicles that quickly broke down after customers took them home, and sold cars it didn’t even own, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro claimed in a lawsuit filed last week.
The suit takes aim at S&L Automotive Solutions and three business partners: Cyrus Scott, a Wyncote resident, and Lawrence Laken and Renee Key, both of Philadelphia. The complaint also names International Recovery Service, which sold cars under the name 500 Drive Now at the same address as S&L Automotive on the 6800 block of Frankford Avenue.
None of the defendants could be reached for comment.
The state claims S&L Automotive sold cars that accelerated while braking, leaked oil and gas, had bad transmissions, and flashed check engine lights as consumers drove off the lot. The dealership failed to repair defects and refused to give refunds for the cars, according to the complaint.
“When a dealer offers a car for sale to consumers, the buyer has a right to believe they’re buying a roadworthy car,” Shapiro said in a statement.
The civil suit, filed Thursday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, also alleges that the dealership failed to deliver titles and registrations to consumers who bought cars and falsely implied it owned the vehicles, even though the vehicles were being held on consignment for third parties who weren’t always paid, the complaint says. As a result, consumers could not drive, trade, or resell cars because they could not get tags or titles.
One of those customers was Raymond Holmes, 60, from Upper Darby, who bought a car from the dealership and drove two replacements. All three vehicles had mechanical issues, he said. The last car, a 2001 Mercedes-Benz, was ultimately towed because he never had the proper paperwork, Holmes said Wednesday.
“I put my money out there. I just got beat and they took advantage of me,” Holmes said.
In June 2017, state police raided S&L Automotive and arrested Laken and Scott. Each pleaded guilty in June 2018 to four counts of violating vehicle title application laws, according to the complaint.
Laken, a manager of S&L Automotive and 500 Drive Now, acted as a salesperson even though a Bucks County judge barred him from selling or renting vehicles in 2010 as a result of a prior lawsuit brought by the Attorney General’s Office, according to the complaint. In addition, the state claims S & L Automotive Solutions Inc. sold cars after its license status changed to “Out of Business."