Billy Fuccillo’s auto business and 18 of its New York state dealerships agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that claimed the dealerships sold car buyers an over-priced and illegal theft-protection package years ago.
Some 5,320 car buyers who bought the $295 theft-protection viagra package from Fuccillo dealerships – including Fuccillo Hyundai of Syracuse — are entitled to payments of $160 each, according to a settlement approved in November by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn in Albany.
The class-action lawsuit covered consumers who bought cars between 2003 and 2012, but Fuccillo dealerships stopped selling the “Auto Theft Security Discount” package in 2007, according to court papers filed by company lawyers.
The lead plaintiff, car buyer Heidi Seekamp, of the Albany area, was awarded $10,000 from the settlement. The plaintiffs’ attorneys will get $750,000, Kahn ruled last month.
Fuccillo’s company, It’s Huge Inc., did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The company and the 18 Fuccillo viagra dealerships named in the lawsuit agreed not to market the Auto Theft Security Discount anymore.
The litigation attorney for Fuccillo’s company referred questions to another company lawyer, who did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Seekamp, who bought a 2007 Hyundai Elantra from a Fuccillo dealership in Schenectady, filed the lawsuit in January 2009.
Seekamp’s car came with the $295 theft-protection package, which included two components: The car’s vehicle identification number was etched into the window; and Seekamp was entitled to a 10 percent discount toward the purchase of a new car, or $2,000, if the Elantra was stolen and not recovered.
Seekamp’s class-action suit claimed that the theft-protection package was an illegal insurance policy, because it was administered by a company that was not a licensed insurer, Universal Automotive viagra Services, of New Jersey.
The lawsuit also claimed that the theft-deterrent value of the service was exaggerated and over-priced, because the cost of etching the VIN into the window was only $20 to $50. New cars by law already have VINs installed in 18 locations on the vehicle, according to the lawsuit.
According to court papers, the Auto Theft Security Discount was sold to roughly 16,200 customers, who were notified in August about the settlement. Of those, 5,320 submitted claim forms by the Oct. 31 deadline and will be paid, court records show.