LIBERTY, Mo. - An 82-year old retired Excelsior Springs woman won a major victory in Clay County court against Chad Franklin and Chad Franklin National Auto Sales.
A jury awarded Lillian Lewellen $4.1 million after she saw an advertisement offering cars for $49 a month for life. After receiving many consumer complaints, the ad campaign became the focus of a Call For Action investigation.
"We believe this is the largest verdict that has been returned against Chad Franklin of all of the cases that were tried,” said Lewellen’s attorney Doug Noland.
In the fall of 2007, Lewellen bought the 2002 Lincoln Town car for $49-dollars a month for a year. At the end of the year, documents show she could trade the car for a different one and still keep the $49 a month payment. But after eight months, Lewellen's payment jumped to $387.45.
Lewellen is retired, living on a fixed income of $920 a month. Evidence presented to the jury shows her monthly income was changed to $18,880 on the credit application submitted by Chad Franklin National Auto Sales.
“She was really in a situation where she was helpless and could do nothing…. The car was repossessed,” said attorney Tom Mendel.
The attorneys expect Chad Franklin to appeal this decision. Calls to the attorney representing Franklin were not returned.
"I think the message on all of it is that juries do hold businesses accountable for what they do,” Noland said.
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