Smyly's Old Lawsuits

by Philip Greenspun, part of the Smyly litigation saga.

Site Home : Politics : Litigation : Smyly : One Article

On Friday, March 31, 1995, I entered the Malden District Court clerk's office, where I'd asked a blue-haired kind-faced woman to pull the cases involving Smyly Autos as a defendant. She only had the most recent years readily accessible, but found two interesting ones. Ann Solans's Complaint told an interesting tale. She'd responded to a Smyly ad in the newspaper promising a Dodge Shadow for "under $10,000". When she went into the dealership, the cheapest car they had on the lot was $10,200. Smyly took a deposit from her and made a contract to deliver a car from a dealer in Hyannis for $9,800. They orally promised to deliver the car by February 20, 1992. Smyly called on February 19 to say that they couldn't get the car. When Solans came back on the 20th, Smyly tried to sell her the first vehicle she'd looked at, but at a price of $11,200. Solans was desperate at this point for a car so she agreed on the condition that the car be ready to drive away on February 22. When she showed up on the 22nd, the car was not registered or ready for delivery.

"Rather than accept this demand, Smyly employees attempted to further pressure the Plaintiff into activity she did not desire. She was physically handled, her arms being grabbed for the purpose of having her 'rushed' out of the showroom (where she was vehemently demanding return of her money) and into a back room. This physical handling was neither invited, nor welcome, and constituted assault and battery."

Smyly gave her the runaround and implied that they might refund her $781.50 if only she gave them more and more documentation that it had been paid, e.g., cancelled checks and bank checks. They apparently never refunded her deposition even 10 months later when the Complaint was filed because it asked for the money's immediate refund.

Two things about the Solans case were identical to mine: they never responded to the 93A letter; they did not answer the Complaint on time (though they asked for an extension in the Solans case).

I drove from Malden to the Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge. I found 23 cases in their card files where Smyly was the defendant and another dozen or so in the computer. Two that caught my eye immediately were captioned Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Smyly. The more recent case was filed and settled by consent on June 29, 1994. The attorney general was complaining about the same kind of false advertising that had lured Ann Solans. Smyly got off with a slap on the wrist, though. They had to pay $5000 and promise not to do it any more (I didn't look up the attorney general's case against Smyly in 1992 to see if they'd promised to stop then also).

More echoes of the Solans case rang out in Smyly v . Universal Underwriters, filed in early 1993. Smyly was here the plaintiff in a 93A action! It seems that Smyly had wanted their insurance company to defend them against Ann Solans's breach of contract and assault and battery claims. John N. Yee from Universal wrote them a polite letter explaining that they weren't obligated under the "bodily injury" and "property damage" provisions of the policy to defend. The case was apparently settled in a way that left Smyly pretty cocky because Alec DeSimone (whose name appeared in virtually all of these lawsuits) seemed 100% sure that his insurance company would defend Smyly against me.

In reading some of the other files, I noticed some patterns. First, Smyly nevered made settlement offers in response to 93A demand letters. Second, Alec DeSimone always put on a front of trying to work with the customer and pretending to need more information or documentation. In response to a very specific and clear 93A demand letter from a lawyer alleging that they'd sold his client a used car with a defective engine and demanding specific sums of money, DeSimone wrote "specifically we do not know what Martha J. Douglas is looking for, but Smyly Autos is always ready to satisfy our customers, whenever possible. If you can make us aware of what this complaint is about, we will attempt to make an effort in rendering a discussion."

Third, Smyly lawyers had a flair for obstructing the process of litigation with bizarre defenses. For example, one of their salesmen, driving a Smyly-owned vehicle, allegedly rammed another car from behind on Interstate 93. The rammee sued the salesman and Smyly. One of Smyly's defenses was "the defendants deny that the place where the plaintiffs alleged the accident happened was a public way and hereby makes a special demand for proof that the said place or places were public ways."

Reader's Comments

I think that you should have stuck it to Smyly in court (as a matter of principle). They are obviously scum, and you should have taught them a lesson. Letting them get off so easily just encourages them to take advantages of others.

-- Dave Slotter, January 15, 1999
I feel sorry for the good people who my be temporarily indesposed while this dealership is taken down, but it still needs to be taken down. Even a rabid dog would be pitied while it is being put to sleep, but it will still be put to sleep. It has been said, "The only thing evil men need to succeed is for good men to do nothing". Bury the scum.

-- Bill Jackson, October 11, 2002
Smyly sold me a car, and one of their mechanics ADMITTEDLY damaged the body while transporting it to the parking lot. They referred me to a Body Shop for repairs, who refused me service because Smyly didn't pay their bill/s. Then to make matters WORSE, they entered Bankruptcy, and I have extensive Body Damage that noone wants to pay for.

-- Cindy Lepore, September 8, 2004
Add a comment | Add a link