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$245,000 used-car verdict - a buck for every mile

A Jefferson Circuit Court jury has ordered a Louisville used-car dealer to pay a customer $245,000 in punitive damages — $1 for each mile that should have been on the odometer of a 2006 Dodge Charger advertised as having only 21,420 miles.

The verdict was returned for a Shreveport, La., woman who bought the car for her son from Mak Cars Inc., which at the time of the sale in 2012 operated Unique Motorsports Inc., 5801 Bardstown Road.

After a three-day trial and three hours of deliberation, the jury Thursday also awarded Cherrylyn Renay Seals $13,927 for the price of the car and an extended warranty that wasn't honored when the third-party warranty provider learned how many miles were actually on the vehicle.

Seals, a law enforcement officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Shreveport who had never been to Louisville before she bought the car, also was awarded $5,000 for embarrassment.

"Before the verdict, I told my lawyer, Ben Carter, that I would never come back here, but now I will," Seals, 56, said in an interview Wednesday. "There are really are good people here. It was an awesome feeling that they cared as much as they did."

The jury decided by an 11-1 vote that Mak, owned by Tariq Makhlouf, his wife and son, had violated the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act.

The company's lawyer, Nader George Shunnarah, said it will ask for a new trial and appeal if that motion is denied. He said in an interview that his client did nothing wrong and that a Carfax report was available to Seals that showed the car's true mileage.

Seals' lawyer, Ben Carter, said he asked the jury to award $250,000 to punish Mak Cars and to deter other used-car dealers from engaging in similar conduct. Mak also operates Hot Deals on Wheels, a used-car dealership at 4912 Poplar Level Road; Unique Motorsports is defunct.

Carter said one of the jurors said after the trial that the jury returned the $245,000 in punitive damages because it thought awarding the amount of miles on the vehicle would be the most appropriate deterrent.

The newspaper was unable to reach any jurors for comment.

Carter said Seals' son, Tommie Seals, a college student in Carbondale, Ill., saw the car advertised online, called the dealer and said an employee confirmed that it had the low miles advertised and the only problem was one scratch.

Shunnarah said the dealership denied that and claimed it disclosed at the outset that it had 245,000 miles. Shunnarah also said the dealership claimed a Carfax report revealing the actual mileage was available with the online ad, and that another copy was posted in the vehicle.


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