Chicago Automobile Trade Association

Attorney general collects fines up to $60,000 over advertising rules

November 24, 2010

The Illinois attorney general's office has settled an eighth lawsuit in the past four months against area dealers and an advertising agency over infractions of the state's advertising regulations.

The settlements resulted in fines of $2,500 to $60,000 and complete a recent spate of lawsuits which prompted complaints that the suits were not preceded by warnings of noncompliance.

Mere notice of an ad regulation infraction, a sort of slap on the wrist, is not a necessary precursor to a lawsuit, Patricia Kelly, chief of the attorney general's consumer protection division, said in October.

"There may be a case from time to time when we may have to take some enforcement action. We can't promise that there will be notice every single time. But as a practical matter, there has been notice every time," Kelly said.

For the first time locally, advertising agencies were named as co-defendants in the recent suits.
Kelly said advertisers are responsible to adhere to the state regulations, and leaving them unpunished would permit the advertisers to perpetuate the infractions with other clients.

One dealer who was sued last summer said the action was unjust because he was not notified first by the attorney general's office or the Better Business Administration. The dealer said he expected to have a chance to correct a noncomplying ad.



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