Civil case in Louisiana


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TLDR: local automotive garage breached their own written contract, committed fraud by charging for parts that were covered under a 5 year warranty (refusing to return the charge after they agreed it was a mistake), gloated about their "mechanic" who come to find out is not a mechanic at all but a salesman posing as such in a ASE certified mechanic shirt. Loss of income as this caused me to be fired 10 months into a 2 year employment agreed, mental grievance and economic hardship.

This is quite long so bear with me:
At my former job, over a year ago, hurricanes came through Louisiana and destroyed a good portion of our town. As per my jobs SOP, work vehicles were taken to a local automotive garage to get repaired. The garage in question was the only one open within 1 - 1.5 hours of us that was approved by corporate to use at the time this occurred. When 1 of 5 vehicles were repaired, this automotive garage offered employees to bring in their personal vehicles for repair / tune-up / whatnot.

As I was working 50 - 55 hours a week, I dropped my vehicle off and thus began the downward spiral into negligence and laziness on their part. A simple part replacement, taking no more than a day at most, we are now at 13 months later. As the original part lasted 15 years prior to this episode, I requested the OEM part and specified instructions on how to get it replaced upon which the garage, salesperson and "mechanic" agreed. The first "attempt" took 2.5 months to get my vehicle back. The "part I requested" lasted for 5 days before failing. Over the following months the vehicle was usable for less time than it was actually at this garage.

The 2nd "attempt" at fixing this, the garage in question let it slip that the part I requested and paid for was not only not installed, but a cheap auto parts garage part was found to be used. When I made it aware that was not our agreement, unfortunately is when the pandemic hit and the OEM part was slated by the manufacturer to be 8 months to 1.5 years out. As such, a aftermarket part (which was an exact copy of the oem part) was found at the same auto parts store that was used previously by this shop. I had this shop call them in my presence and verified they had more than 10 in stock and I requested specifically that brand and model name. Upon being fixed, my vehicle made it 18 miles and the (soon to be found out same cheap auto parts store part) had failed.

After my vehicle was dropped off the second time, it was found that the 2nd work vehicle had been back to this shop 7 times for what ended up being loose or missing motor mount bolts. The shop and "mechanic" blamed this on the following: worn brake pads, worn brake rotor, worn suspension, worn power steering rack, no power steering fluid, etc. This vehicle was so dangerous it was put in a separate parking lot and referred to by employees as a deathtrap. The shop and "mechanic" finally admitted the problem was loose or missing motor mount bolts when corporate got involved and threatened to drop the contract with this garage. I have employee testimony to this fact.

Queue round 3 at this garage, where afterwards again the same cheap auto shop part died in less than 15 miles.

While being on the side of the road, I figured "Toyota made this vehicle, lets see if they can resolve this." I had the vehicle towed to a local Toyota dealership. The dealership found that not only was the wrong part used, it was possibly a recalled part, it was installed incorrectly, also the steps to replace this part were not followed which resulted in the complete failure of the fuel system. Toyota would not touch the vehicle until the entire fuel system was cleaned out. The Toyota dealership wrote up a statement regarding the previous shops work as shoddy, negligent, etc. The Toyota dealership themselves could also not get the oem part.

Around this time, my employer made comments and wrote me up for this being an issue and to get it resolved asap.

Upon being told this, I contacted the DA of Baton Rouge consumer protection division and forwarded all forms relating to this. The mediator for the DA attempted to resolve the situation, wherein the garage in question admitted they charged for something that wasn't done and is willing to resolve this. A day or so after the automotive shop responded to the DA mediator, the owner of this automotive shop contacted me, admitted their was an erroneous charge and that he wanted to get this resolved asking what it would take. I relayed to the owner that what I put in the fax to the DA was what was required:

1. Return of the erroneous charge for a part that was paid for but not installed.
2. Covering all tow bills caused by this.
3. Reimbursement for the Toyota bill.
4. Covering the bill of a shop that found and can fix the issue.
The owner of said shop agreed and promised I would see a charge back in the following days and the rest of my request will be worked on asap.

That was 3 months ago, as of last week the shop in question has been playing dumb. All the sudden "the owner retired" and "we have no idea what you are talking about". Funny thing is they also sent myself and the DA copies of the receipts of each "attempt." Finally, It's been brought to my attention that their "mechanic" is not only not a mechanic, but is wearing a ASE certified mechanic shirt with the name of a different employee, yet still to this day posing as a mechanic

When contacting the DA about this, their stance was as follows: "since the shop agreed they made a erroneous charge and will return it, we consider this case closed." When I inquired as to how this is a closed matter because now they are refusing to return the charge, I was told that all the mediator is their to do is mediate and to find a attorney to resolve this.

I've talked to local attorneys, and attorneys from here to Houston, with a few in different states. I've been told the same thing: "this case would have to be in excess of 90k or more for us to be involved, look for local attorneys or try small claims court." Since I lack the funds for a new vehicle (around 35k and up) nor the credit rating (about half the value of a new vehicle) due to past mistakes, I'm now in an economic hardship.

I'm hoping someone can advise on a law firm local to Louisiana that would cover this or if what I've been told is in fact true: "their isn't anything that you can do, as this is not a big $$ case."

Thank you for your time.
I'm hoping someone can advise on a law firm local to Louisiana that would cover this or if what I've been told is in fact true: "their isn't anything that you can do, as this is not a big $$ case."

Your research, as well as your results, seems to prove that what you've been told is true.