Rutledge Obtains over $650,000 in Relief for Victimized Military Members and Veterans
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached a settlement with retailer USA Discounters, also doing business as USA Living and Fletcher’s Jewelers, along with 49 other attorneys general to resolve claims of deceptive practices used by the company against consumers.
USA Discounters typically marketed to members of the military and veterans, advertising that military, veterans and government employees would never be denied credit for goods purchased from the retailer and sold products, including furniture, appliances, televisions, computers, smartphones, jewelry and other consumer goods.
“No Arkansan deserves to be lied to when they are considering purchasing everyday consumer goods, especially our military members and veterans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These abusive practices by USA Discounters harmed our service members right here in Arkansas, and I am grateful this settlement grants much needed relief to those individuals.”
The attorneys general alleged that USA Discounters engaged in unfair, abusive, false and deceptive acts and practices. These allegations include that, in collecting on consumer debts, the company engaged in abusive tactics, constantly contacted service members’ chains-of-command and caused some service members to lose security clearances and face demotions. The states also alleged that USA Discounters only filed its lawsuits in a few Virginia jurisdictions, no matter the service member’s location, deployment status or residence. In addition, the states believed that USA Discounters sold overpriced household goods at high interest rates, often using the military allotment system to guarantee payment. These unlawful business practices were secured through misrepresentations and omissions in advertising, during the loan’s origination, and during the collection process.
USA Discounters closed its stores in the summer of 2015 before later declaring bankruptcy.
USA Discounters agreed to provide relief to certain former and current customers in Arkansas. The total estimated value to consumers nationally is approximately $95.9 million, with $658,358 going to 261 Arkansans, primarily benefiting active and veteran service members.
USA Discounters also agreed to:
- Apply a $100 credit to all accounts whose contracts were dated after June 1, 2012, which were not discharged in bankruptcy, and correct the negative comment from the company on those consumers’ credit reports ($6,700 for Arkansans);
- Write off all judgments not obtained in the correct state and correct the negative comment from the company on those consumers’ credit reports ($650,463 for Arkansans);
- Credit all judgments that were obtained in the correct state against members of the military with a credit equal to 50 percent of the original judgment amount ($1,194 for Arkansans);
- And pay a penalty of $40 million to the states, which will be subordinated to all secured, administrative, priority and unsecured claims that are allowed in the bankruptcy case.
About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. She is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected to the office. Since taking office, she has begun a Mobile Office program, a Military and Veterans Initiative, a Metal Theft Prevention program and a Cooperative Disability Investigations program. She has led efforts to teach Internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge also re-established and co-chairs the National Association of Attorneys General Committee on Agriculture.
A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for Gov. Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and subsequently was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.