A used car dealership and its owner have agreed to pay more than $6,000 in civil penalties, restitution and other costs to settle a complaint from a Wichita couple who bought a 2012 Ford Mustang last year but couldn’t register or title it in their names.
Other people also tried buying the car — in September 2022 and in November 2022 — but returned it to the dealership when they had the same problem, court records say.
The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release Monday that Maize Motors LLC, 5203 N. Maize in Maize, and its owner Gabriel Nicholson knew they couldn’t give the buyers a title within 60 days of the sale as Kansas law requires — and didn’t disclose that fact to customers.
The dealership and Nicholson instead tried to transfer ownership of the car using a “Permit to Sell” issued by the state of Louisiana from a towing and repair business there, according to the DA and court records. Maize Motors says it bought the Mustang from the towing and repair business in July 2022, according to court records.
Nicholson and Maize Motors sold the car to the couple for $14,136.25 on March 6, 2023, after two other failed sales.
When they couldn’t register the car with the “Permit to Sell,” the couple hired a lawyer for $1,000 to file a quiet title action, a type of court proceeding used to clear up vehicle ownership matters.
The couple also filed a complaint on Oct. 26 with the Consumer Protection Division of the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office, court records say.
The DA’s Office said Monday that the dealership “maintains it believed the ‘Permit to Sell’ was sufficient to transfer title in Kansas.”
Before settling the case, Maize Motors obtained a quiet title to the Mustang and “delivered title to the consumers outside of the 60 days required by Kansas law,” the DA’s news release says.
Nicholson and Maize Motors deny intentionally violating the Kansas Consumer Protection Act in the sale.
But they agreed to pay $1,000 in restitution to the couple, $697 in investigative and court costs, and also be liable for $5,000 in civil penalties in a consent judgment filed in court and approved by District Judge Stephen Ternes on Jan. 23, the DA’s Office said. The consent judgment settles the allegations.
They also agreed to be on probation for one year with the DA’s Consumer Protection Division and give full refunds to any customer who cancels a sale if they don’t receive their vehicle title within 60 days.
“As part of the consent judgment, Nicholson and the dealership agreed to cooperate with any future complaints and are enjoined for five years from deceptive and unconscionable acts in consumer transactions,” the DA’s Office said.
In Kansas, a vehicle buyer is entitled to a full refund and the purchase is considered “fraudulent and void” if the seller doesn’t turn over a certificate of title within 60 days. Used vehicles that don’t have a Kansas title have to pass an inspection from the Kansas Highway Patrol before they can be registered.
For information on filing a consumer complaint in Sedgwick County, go to www.sedgwickcounty.org/district-attorney/consumer-protection-division.