Syracuse: Fuccillo Automotive Group Lawsuit

Fuccillo Automotive Group Faces Lawsuit for “Warranties”

A Latham woman is suing the Fuccillo Automotive Group, alleging that one of its dealerships illegally sold her an insurance product on a car she bought from the dealership.

Heidi Seekamp alleged in a class-action lawsuit filed Jan. 7 in U.S. District Court in Albany that Fuccillo Lincoln Mercury Inc., which also does business as Fuccillo Hyundai, in Schenectady, sold her the service for $295 on a new Hyundai Elantra she purchased in June 2007.

The service consisted of etching the vehicles identification number onto the car’s windows as a deterrent to thieves, the lawsuit said. If the car was stolen and was deemed a total loss because of damage done to it or because it could not be recovered, then the dealership pledged to give her a discount of up to $2,000 on a replacement vehicle, the lawsuit said.

Sergei Lemberg, a Stamford, Conn., consumer law attorney representing Seekamp, said the state Insurance Department has long considered such services to be insurance policies because they provide a benefit to the purchaser in the event of damage or loss unrelated to mechanical failure.

State law requires that anybody selling such as service be licensed to sell insurance in New York.

Lemberg said the service was sold to Seekamp through Universal Automotive Services Inc., a New Jersey company that was working with the Fuccillo Automotive Group, based in Adams. Universal is not licensed to sell insurance in New York, making the sale to Seekamp and anyone else in New York illegal, he said.

To get around that requirement, Fuccillo told customers the service was a “warranty,” he said.

The Fuccillo Automotive Group owns 15 dealerships in New York, including a Hyundai store on Erie Boulevard East in Syracuse.

Billy Fuccillo, who owns the dealerships, was reported to be out of the country Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

The Times Union in Albany said Fuccillo told them in a phone call on Saturday that he had no knowledge of the suit and had not yet been served with court papers.

Lemberg said the window etching was grossly overpriced at $295. He estimated the actual cost of the etching to be $20 to $30. If the service was sold as insurance, approval by the Insurance Department would have been required, and the department would not have allowed Universal and Fuccillo to sell it for as much as they did, he said….

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