Phoenix (Thursday, October 25, 2012) -- Attorney General Tom Horne today announced that the second case in his ongoing auto repair “sting” operations has put Sun Valley Towing out of the towing and auto repair business. In a Judgment totaling $686,582, the Court awarded the maximum available civil penalties of $590,000 and $67,580.59 restitution to consumers. The Judgment against Sun Valley Towing LLC and Kunselman Industries, LLC, located at 1354 S. 39th Avenue in Phoenix, was based upon both customer complaints of deceptive business practices and the State’s undercover auto sting operations.
“This is the second judgment to result from our ongoing undercover auto sting operations.” Horne said. “The many serious complaints we received from Sun Valley customers were validated when Sun Valley Towing was caught red handed charging for repairs they never performed.”
In the sting operation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office, an automotive repair expert shut off a State vehicle’s inertia fuel cutoff switch before the State’s undercover operator called Sun Valley Towing for service. Sun Valley Towing towed the vehicle to its repair shop where a mechanic simply reset the inertia fuel cutoff switch, correcting the problem. Tim Kunselman, the shop owner, then charged the State’s undercover operator $340.00 for replacing the fuel pump, an unnecessary repair which was never performed.
The State’s suit also contained allegations regarding 59 complaints made by Sun Valley Towing customers that Sun Valley Towing had failed to make promised repairs, kept their vehicles for months or years, returned them stripped of parts in the same or worse mechanical condition, and repeatedly lied to customers about their vehicle’s status and supposed refunds. In announcing his findings in the case, Commissioner Benjamin Vatz stated that “Defendants engaged in a highly culpable, persistent course of callous, willful and deceptive misconduct that caused severe damage to an extraordinary number of consumers over an extended period of time. In the interests of justice, this history of unlawful practices merits injunctive relief as well as a civil penalty to the fullest extent authorized by Arizona law.”
The Court also issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Sun Valley from engaging in auto repair, tow operations, vehicle repair, vehicle sales and vehicle service and awarded the State its costs and attorney’s fees. The lawsuit continues against Sun Valley Towing’s principals Tim and Rosemary Kunselman.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Salisbury.