Consumer groups such as the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and the Center for Auto Safety are suing the Federal Trade Commission because it made deals with automakers and auto dealers to legalize the sale of used cars with open recalls.
According to a blog posted by U.S. PIRG, federal law prohibits the sale of a new car with unrepaired or “open” safety recalls. However, the FTC’s consent orders with GM and other large car dealers, allow consumers to buy a used car with open safety recalls.
Lack of Protection for Consumers
The FTC’s consent orders with GM and five large publicly traded car dealership chains – CarMax, Lithia, Koons, Asbury, and West-Herr – allow used car dealers to basically stick a disclaimer on a used car with an open safety recall and sell it to consumers. Public Interest Research Groups are a federation of U.S. and Canadian non-profit organizations that employ grassroots organizing and direct advocacy on issues such as consumer protection, public health, and transportation.
This led to PIRG, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), and the Center for Auto Safety suing the FTC over these consent orders in 2017 after the FTC ignored comments on the orders from more than 20 organizations. The lawsuit is still in court. In September, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that these consumer groups lacked the standing to sue because they did not suffer direct harm. The groups have now filed an appeal.
Cally Houck, the mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were 20 and 24 when they died in a car crash involving an unrepaired and recalled rental car, said that under the FTC’s consent orders, a car dealer can get away with advertising that a “used car is safe,” that it has been “repaired for safety” or has “passed a 172-point inspection.” A used car could even be passed off as a “certified” vehicle even if it had the same safety recall defect that killed her daughters. Houck has become a vocal advocate on the issue and labeled it “appalling”.
Protecting Your Rights
If you have been injured by an unrepaired and recalled used vehicle, it is important that you contact an attorney who is well-versed with state consumer protection laws. Injured victims may be able to file an auto defect lawsuit against the manufacturer as well as a personal injury lawsuit against the dealership for selling an unrepaired, recalled used car. An experienced auto defect lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options.