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Jury awards more than $1M to ‘yo-yo financing’ scam target

Accokeek man claimed car dealership, towing company conspired to take truck after he refused to refinance

 From left to right: attorneys Jibril Brown, Raouf M. Abdullah (both of R.M.A. & Associates LLC) and J. Wyndal Gordon (of the Law Office of J. Wyndal Gordon P.A.)

From left to right: attorneys Jibril Brown, Raouf M. Abdullah (both of R.M.A. & Associates LLC) and J. Wyndal Gordon (of the Law Office of J. Wyndal Gordon P.A.)

A Prince George’s County jury has awarded more than $1 million to a man who alleged that the Waldorf dealership where he bought his truck teamed up with a local towing company in an attempt to illegally take possession of the vehicle after he refused to enter into a new financing agreement.

The owners of the towing company, Waldorf-based G&G Towing & Recovery of Southern Maryland Inc., acted on Waldorf Ford’s when they showed up at David Lee’s home in Accokeek and attempted to intimidate him into giving up his truck he’d purchased, according to Lee’s complaint.

The jury award, announced Friday, includes more than $708,000 in punitive damages against Waldorf Ford and the owners of G&G Towing, Stephen Goldsmith and Courtney Layhe. The defendants had offered to settle for $25,000, said J. Wyndal Gordon, a Baltimore solo practitioner who represented Lee along with Raouf M. Abdullah and Jibril Brown of R.M.A. & Associates LLC in Upper Marlboro.

A jury of two men and four women returned the verdict in favor of Lee after a week-long trial before Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Philip C. Nichols Jr., Gordon said.

“We were very pleased with the award,” Gordon said. “We believe that they sent a message to Waldorf Ford and those who engage in the same types of practices that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in Prince George’s County.”

The scheme, Brown said, appeared to be part of a “yo-yo financing” scam, in which dealers attempt to renegotiate financing conditions after a sale has been made in order to bring in more money. After Waldorf Ford’s attempt to “lure” Lee back in failed, the dealership called on Goldsmith and Layhe to pay him a visit and make it appear as though he voluntarily surrendered his 2003 Ford F-150, according to the complaint.

“They were going to attempt to take the truck, whether by force, intimidation or deceit,” Gordon said.

On May 30, 2013, about a month after Lee purchased the vehicle, Goldsmith and Layhe arrived at Lee’s home and Goldsmith approached Lee “in an aggressive menacing manner,” demanding possession of the truck, according to the complaint. Meanwhile, Layhe blocked the exit to the cul-de-sac with another vehicle so that Lee could not leave, according to the complaint, filed in April 2014.

Goldsmith pounded on the hood of Lee’s vehicle while refusing to provide his name and demanding that Lee surrender the truck, the lawsuit states. Goldsmith eventually forced himself inside the vehicle, the lawsuit states.

Layhe and Goldsmith later contacted emergency services, and Goldsmith claimed Lee had intentionally hit him with the truck, the complaint states.

Lee had to stand trial against assault charges that were false, according to the lawsuit. He was found not guilty after “less than an hour of deliberation” following a two-day trial, according to the lawsuit.

Lee no longer owns the truck but not because of the incident that led to his lawsuit, Gordon said, declining to elaborate further.

Michele Harper, an attorney for the defendants, did not immediately return a call Monday seeking comment on the verdict. Harper is with Schenker, Krause, Crogan & Lopez in Owings Mills.


Court: Prince George’s County Circuit Court

Case No.: CAL14-08144

Proceeding: Jury trial

Outcome: Plaintiff’s verdict

Award: $1,008,716, including $708,716 in punitive damages


Incident: May 30, 2013

Suit filed: April 14, 2014

Disposition: Sept. 25, 2015

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: J. Wyndal Gordon of the Law Office of J. Wyndal Gordon P.A. in Baltimore and Raouf M. Abdullah and Jibril Brown of R.M.A. & Associates LLC in Upper Marlboro

Defense Attorneys: Michele Harper of Schenker, Krause, Crogan & Lopez in Owings Mills

Counts: Assault, battery, false imprisonment, defamation, trespass to chattel, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy and loss of consortium


About Lauren Kirkwood

Lauren Kirkwood covers the business of law beat at The Daily Record.