LITTLE ROCK — Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against a Greenbrier used car dealership accused of selling vehicles while being unable to provide a clear title to the consumers who purchased those vehicles.

Carco of Arkansas, Inc. and its owner J. Eric Turner have in at least 59 instances failed to deliver a title at the time of sale, according to the complaint filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court. Many times, Carco was not itself in possession of a vehicle's title because it had not fully paid for the cars it acquired from other dealers, such as auto auctions, before placing the cars for sale on its own lot.

McDaniel's complaint also alleges that Carco did not promptly pay off the balances on trade-ins it had taken from consumers, exposing the consumer trading the vehicle to liability and financial trouble, and preventing Carco from providing clear title to the next buyer.

"Vehicle owners are in an unmanageable position when they do not possess clear title to a car they've purchased," McDaniel said. "Without a title, a buyer can't register a car and legally drive it, and the buyer cannot obtain insurance for the vehicle. This practice is not acceptable, and the court should make sure that it does not continue."

According to the complaint, Carco did not fully pay for the cars it sold from its lot, so the dealers from which Carco purchased vehicles refused to turn over titles to Carco. When consumers bought the same cars from Carco, the dealership assured buyers that titles would be delivered shortly after sale. However, the defendants knew at the time they provided those assurances that they could not keep that promise.

It took the defendants an average of five months from the date of sale to deliver titles to consumers, the lawsuit stated.

Carco and Turner are accused of violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Used Motor Vehicle Buyer Protection Act. McDaniel asked the court to issue an injunction prohibiting the defendants from continuing the deceptive business practice and to award civil penalties and restitution to consumers.