Rutledge Files Suit Against an Accessibility Company for Deceptive Practices
February 12, 2021
Says, ‘It is unconscionable to deceive families with loved ones who have disabilities’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a lawsuit has been filed against Accessibility Specialties, Inc. (ASI), and its co-owners, Russell Mashburn and Billy Rice. ASI sells mobility and accessibility equipment, and it modifies vehicles to support individuals with disabilities. At least on one occasion, ASI was hired to make a customer’s van accessible, but without the owner’s knowledge, ASI sold the vehicle to a third-party and kept the proceeds of the sales. Additionally, ASI made agreements with at least two other consumers to sell their vehicles on consignment, but did not give the proceeds of either sale to the owners of the vehicles. ASI, Mashburn and Rice knowingly deceived Arkansas consumers, and each faces violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA).
“It is unconscionable to deceive families with loved ones who have disabilities,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will hold these defendants fully accountable for this appalling practice and will pursue any others who engage in this type of conduct.”
ASI has been in business in Little Rock since 1996 and would sell equipment like stairlifts, elevators, ramps, power wheelchairs and also offered accessible van rentals and would make personalized modifications to customers’ accessible vans. The business is also a licensed used car dealer and would sell used accessible vehicles Arkansans with disabilities or their families.
Through an investigation, it was revealed ASI would sell vans without the owners’ authorization. In August 2020, a customer hired ASI to convert their Toyota Sienna van for their teenaged son who is disabled. After a few weeks, the customer found out ASI had wrongfully sold the Toyota Sienna for $49,500 without the owner’s consent. The buyer of the vehicle did not know ASI wrongfully sold them the van.
On another occasion, ASI agreed to sell a customer’s assessable van for $11,000. Once the sale was made, ASI took the $11,000 and never paid the proceeds to the original owners of the vehicle. At another time, ASI sold a customer’s accessible van and a wheelchair on consignment but never paid the proceeds of $23,000 to the customer.
The lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, alleges that each defendant is liable for any unrecovered restitution due to affected consumers, and asks the court for an injunction prohibiting further deceptive acts, the revocation of their authority to conduct business in Arkansas, and up to a $10,000 civil penalty for each violation of the ADTPA.
For more tips to help avoid falling victim to bad actors, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov.