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Lawrence Kia facing class action lawsuit

Independence firm filed on behalf of customers
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Posted at 6:06 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 19:30:20-04

LAWRENCE, Kan. — A metro law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against Lawrence Kia.

The suit, filed by the Independence firm Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, comes after multiple 41 Action News I-Team reports of customer complaints.

The lawsuit is primarily based on violation claims of Kansas consumer protection laws.

Specifically, those customers complained their monthly incomes were inflated on their loan applications for their vehicles.

The lead, and so far only named, plaintiff in the case is former University of Kansas football player Codey Cole.

Cole first spoke to the I-Team in March about his experience buying a car at Lawrence Kia.

"They gave me a lot of papers to sign. They rushed through it. They didn't try to explain it to me, explain what was going on," Cole said.

Other Kia customers who bought vehicles have told the I-Team of similar experiences of signing documents they simply didn't catch were falsified.

"We felt it was incumbent upon us to get filed so that people would know there was someplace to go to get some relief," said Ken McClain, a partner with the firm filing the lawsuit.

McClain said he's heard from about a dozen Lawrence Kia customers so far.

He also said the complaints his firm has dated back to 2015 and include customers who've had their vehicles repossessed.

McClain said his firm is reviewing each individual case.

In particular, one potential issue is some customers may have signed arbitration agreements as part of the documents presented to them.

Those agreements could be a stumbling block to filing suit.

"It's a tremendous mess caused by this over-aggressive sales technique that was being employed by Kia. It's dishonest and it ought to be stopped. It was designed to pick the pocket of all these individuals of monies they should not have expended," McClain said.

Although he's not specifically named, Herb Vance's case is used as an example in the complaint filed in Douglas County District Court Monday.

The retiree told the I-Team in March his monthly income was $2,000, but his loan application submitted by Lawrence Kia to his lender said Vance's monthly income was $9,961.

Vance's lender is Santander Consumer, the nation's largest sub-prime auto financing company.

Last month, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced a settlement requiring Santander to pay $2.9 million to Kansas consumers.

The settlement came after a five-year investigation by 34 state attorneys general.

And now with Vance, a Santander loan has come under question again.

"We're investigating very aggressively the role that the banks play in regards to this scheme," McClain said.

The I-Team reached out to Santander representatives through multiple emails and phone calls over the last couple of weeks without getting a comment.

Following I-Team reports, Wells Fargo suspended taking loan applications from Lawrence Kia and is investigating its loans with the dealership.

Additionally, the Kansas Attorney General, Bank Commissioner and the Douglas County District Attorney's offices are all investigating Lawrence Kia.

The lawsuit names J.J.R., INC. doing business as Lawrence Kia as the lead defendant.

The owner-management team of James "Pat" Morrissy, Chintaka Rajapaksha and Kevin Morrissy are all also named individually as defendants.

McClain said the men were named individually because sometimes owners take money out of "thinly capitalized" corporations in order to hide it.

The I-Team reached out to Lawrence Kia's attorneys for comment on the lawsuit.

As of Monday evening, there'd been no response.

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