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Q: fraud charges brought against Autozone Inc ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Question  
Subject: fraud charges brought against Autozone Inc
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: redtippey-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 23 Sep 2005 16:41 PDT
Expires: 23 Oct 2005 16:41 PDT
Question ID: 571833
I need to know if there has ever been any fraud charge(s) brought
against Autozone Inc (based out of Memphis) or of any settlement(s)
paid out by Autozone for committing fraud.

I am aware that SCO is suing AutoZone over alleged IP violations, so
this information is not relevant

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 23 Sep 2005 18:06 PDT
redtippey-ga,

Nice to see you again.

When you say "fraud charges" are you looking for formal charges levied
by, say, the Attorney General or some other state authority?  The type
of thing that can send someone to jail, or at least end up with a
hefty fine?


Or is your meaning more along the lines of who is suing Autozone for
fraud for, say, breach of contract, and the like.  The sort of thing
that ends up with a court awarding monetary damages to the plaintiff
(if they find in their favor, of course).

I suspect it's the second thing you're after, but I just want to make sure.  

pafalafa-ga

Clarification of Question by redtippey-ga on 23 Sep 2005 20:21 PDT
I'm looking for a conviction on either....jail time or an out of court
settlement with a publicly disclosed amount (greater than
$0)....thanks

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 24 Sep 2005 13:05 PDT
redtippey-ga,

I've looked through quite a lot of materials -- legal cases, news
articles, etc -- on Autozone.

Like any pretty large company, they deal with a good amount of legal
issues, and are in and out of court on a regular basis.

I did not find any smoking guns regarding fraud cases.  

Autozone was fined in NYS for overcharging on car battery returns, and
that's probably the most clear-cut case resembling fraud.

There were a number of contract disputes that ended up in court and
that alleged fraudulent behavior on the part of Autozone, but by and
large, these were resolved in Autozone's favor.

They were also charged with 'price discrimination' (sort of like price
fixing), but again, the courts ruled in favor of Autozone.

There are a fair number of different sorts of employee suits, some
involving charges of fraud -- workers comp, harassment, retaliatory
discharge, etc -- and these are split.  Sometimes the employees win,
sometimes not.

Autozone's weakest link seems to be its record with the Better
Business Bureau.  They are not, in general, members of BBB (each local
store probably makes their own decision about that), and they don't
appear to have an impressive record, as far as BBB ratings go.  There
are a lot of unresolved customer complaints.

Should I provide details about all of the above as an answer to your
question, even in the absence of a hot fraud case?

It's up to you, whether the information meets your needs, or not.  

Let me know what you think.


pafalafa-ga

Clarification of Question by redtippey-ga on 25 Sep 2005 17:42 PDT
Would you be ok with me lowering the list price for this question down
to $50 in exchange for the details on only the contract disputes that
ended up in court that alleged fraudulent behavior?

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 25 Sep 2005 19:08 PDT
redtippey-ga,



Here is the information I found pertaining to contract fraud and Autozone.  

I have limited the results here to ordinary business contracts (as
opposed to contractural understandings between, say, an employee of
Autozone and the company regarding overtime pay).

I have not yet posted this information as an answer to your question. 
Please review it, and adjust the price as you see fit, so I can post a
formal answer and collect the fee offered.

Thanks.

pafalafa-ga



==========


[In Webcor v Autozone, Webcor sued for contract fraud regarding
specially-manufactured cartons for Autozone distributors, for a
product that Autozone ultimately discontinued, sticking Webcor with a
lot of unsellable inventory.  However, through a convoluted arguement,
the court eventually found in favor of Autozone]

You can read about the case here:

http://www.law.msu.edu/lawrev/99-2/starnes.pdf
CONTRACTS IN THE SIXTH CIRCUIT-1998

Statute of Frauds
Webcor Packaging Corp. v. Autozone, Inc.

In Webcor Packaging Corp. v. Autozone, Inc. the Sixth Circuit again
found an alleged agreement unenforceable under the statute of frauds. In this
case, Webcor contracted over several years with various vendors to
manufacture cartons with the Autozone trade name, Duralast. The changing
group of vendors who bought the Duralast cartons used them to package their
own automobile parts which they then sold to Autozone as "retail ready"
items.68 Autozone fostered Webcor's role in this production chain by directing
vendors to Webcor and by supplying Webcor with artwork and specifications
for Duralast packaging. Occasionally, Autozone purchased cartons from
Webcor for its own use...



and you can read the full case decision (if you're so inclined) here:




http://www.law.emory.edu/6circuit/sept98/98a0297p.06.html
Webcor Packaging Corporation, a Michigan corporation,
Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Autozone, Inc., a Nevada corporation,
Defendant-Appellee.

No. 96-2106

Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit

NATHANIEL R. JONES, Circuit Judge. The parties in this case have
framed the issue as one of first impression: whether the "ultimate
purchaser" of unique goods may be considered as the buyer for purposes
of the specially manufactured goods exception to the statute of
frauds. We conclude that the district court was correct in its
reliance upon the circumstances of manufacture. In doing so, we take
this opportunity to refine and extend the analysis of the district
court....




===============


[Professional Bull Riders v Autozone is another breach of contract
case, and I must say, is one of the more legally convoluted disputes I
have come across.  It was initially decided in favor of Autozone, but
has very recently (August 2005) been reversed by the Courts.  As a
result, this is still an ongoing action, and it's not clear who will
come out on top.  In a nutshell, Autozone verbally agreed to the terms
of a 2-year contract to sponsor the Professional Bull Riders, but felt
they had an option to terminate after a year.  PBR felt otherwise, and
want to hold Autozone to the full two years of sponsorship.  The
courts are working it out]




http://www.kscourts.org/ca10/cases/2005/08/03-1544.htm
PROFESSIONAL BULL RIDERS, INC., a Colorado corporation, 
Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross- Appellee, 
v. 
AUTOZONE, INC., a Nevada corporation, 
Defendant-Appellee/Cross- Appellant, 

SPEEDBAR, INC., 
Intervenor-Counterclaimant- Cross-Appellant
August 15, 2005



Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) filed this breach of contract
action against AutoZone, arguing that AutoZone entered into and then
breached an oral agreement to sponsor certain PBR events during 2001
and 2002: the Bud Light Cup Professional Bull Rider Series and the
Related Championship Finals. In response, AutoZone argued that the
agreement could not be performed within a year and was therefore void
under the Colorado statute of frauds, Colo. Rev. Stat.  38-10-112.
AutoZone and Speedbar, Inc. (its wholly- owned subsidiary and the
owner of the trademark "AutoZone") also asserted counterclaims for
service mark infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition,
and service mark dilution.

The district court granted summary judgment to AutoZone on PBR's
breach of contract claim. However, as to the trademark infringement
counterclaims, the court ruled against AutoZone and Speedbar, granting
summary judgment to PBR on the grounds that AutoZone and Speedbar had
failed to offer any evidence that they had suffered actual damages.

The parties appealed, and, in a prior order, we certified a question
involving the Colorado statute of frauds to the Colorado Supreme
Court. See Professional Bull Riders, Inc. v. AutoZone, Inc., Nos.
03-1544, 04-1029, 2005 WL 34494801 (10th Cir. Feb 03, 2005). The
Colorado Supreme Court has now answered our question. See Professional
Bull Riders, Inc. v. AutoZone, Inc., 113 P.3d 757 (Colo. 2005). In
light of that answer, we conclude that the district court erred in
granting summary judgment to AutoZone on PBR's breach of contract
claim. We further conclude that the district court erred in granting
summary judgment to PBR on the counterclaims asserted by AutoZone and
Speedbar. We therefore reverse the district court's decisions and
remand for proceedings consistent with this order and judgment...



=============== 



[An auto suppliers group calling itself "The Coalition for a Level
Playing Field" sued Autozone and other mega-autoparts stores for price
discrimination.  Many of the other companies settled out of court. 
Autozone refused to, forcing the case to court, where the ruling was
in favor of Autozone, but that's not necessarily the end of the story]


Here's the website of the Coalition:



http://www.lawmall.com/autopart/
Website for Auto Parts and Accessories Industry Price-Discrimination
Lawsuit - Coalition for a Level Playing Field, LLC, et al. v.
AutoZone, Inc., et. al, for Alleged Violation of Sections 2(a), 2(c)
and 2(f) of the Robinson-Patman Act, Filed 2/16/00

[there's a ton of industry-insider information here for anyone willing to dig]




[Here's an article about the lawsuit, and subsequent activity]


http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3306/is_2_114/ai_n6019410
Coalition's appeal denied, issue far from over
Aftermarket Business,  Feb, 2004





[And an excerpt from a law journal article...no hyperlink is available]

National Law Journal
April 7, 2003

Keeping cases in racing trim

In February 2000, the "Coalition for a Level Playing Field,"
representing more than 100 auto parts warehouse distributors and
jobbers, sued Autozone, Advance Auto Parts, Pep Boys, Wal-Mart and
five other national auto parts dealers, alleging price discrimination
in violation of the Robinson-Patman Act.

According to the complaint, filed in the Eastern District of New York,
Autozone and the other defendants obtained manufacturer discounts,
sham allowances and rebates that resulted in cheaper prices than those
offered to smaller auto parts wholesalers and retailers. The
plaintiffs sought injunctive relief and treble damages in excess of
$100 million.

Before the trial, the plaintiffs settled or dropped their claims
against all defendants, except Autozone and Advance Auto Parts. "We
feel that we operate at the highest ethical and legal standards, and
did not violate any laws," explained Goldsmith. The defendants
cooperated in the courtroom to defeat the plaintiffs' claim of
collusion in the marketplace, said Goldsmith.


===============


[And not really a contract/fraud case, but possibly of interest just the same...]


http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2003/feb/feb21a_03.html

AUTO PARTS RETAILERS PAY FOR  EXCESSIVE CAR BATTERY FEES

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today announced that the nation's two
leading auto parts retailers have agreed to pay $220,000 to settle a
case involving excessive fees on new car batteries.

AutoZone, Inc. of Memphis, Tennessee and Advance Stores Company, Inc.,
which does business as Advance Auto Parts, based in Roanoke, Virginia,
both settled allegations that they violated a state law that limits
the incentive fee charged to consumers purchasing lead-acid batteries.


===============



That's all I could find that was directly related to fraud/contract disputes.  


Again, look the material over, and let me know how you would like to
proceed at this point,


All the best,


pafalafa-ga

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 28 Sep 2005 16:08 PDT
redtippey-ga,


Just checking in...Did you have a chance to review the information I
posted above a few days ago?


Looking forward to hearing how it looks to you...


pafalafa-ga

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 12 Oct 2005 12:03 PDT
redtippey-ga,

I would like to post the information I have provided as an answer to
your question, and will do so by the end of the week.

If you'd like to change the price of the question before I post an
answer, please feel free to do so.

And if there's anything else you need on this, let me know.


paf
Answer  
Subject: Re: fraud charges brought against Autozone Inc
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 17 Oct 2005 12:23 PDT
 
redtippey-ga,


After a good deal of searching in a large variety of sources --
including Google, Lexis-Nexis (legal), and Pacer (direct access to
courts), it seems that there are not a great many fraud-related cases
pertaining to Autozone that have been published.

Here is the information I found pertaining to contract fraud and Autozone.  

I have limited the results here to ordinary business contracts (as
opposed to contractural understandings between, say, an employee of
Autozone and the company regarding overtime pay).


Thanks.

pafalafa-ga



==========


[In Webcor v Autozone, Webcor sued for contract fraud regarding
specially-manufactured cartons for Autozone distributors, for a
product that Autozone ultimately discontinued, sticking Webcor with a
lot of unsellable inventory.  However, through a convoluted arguement,
the court eventually found in favor of Autozone]

You can read about the case here:

http://www.law.msu.edu/lawrev/99-2/starnes.pdf
CONTRACTS IN THE SIXTH CIRCUIT-1998

Statute of Frauds
Webcor Packaging Corp. v. Autozone, Inc.

In Webcor Packaging Corp. v. Autozone, Inc. the Sixth Circuit again
found an alleged agreement unenforceable under the statute of frauds. In this
case, Webcor contracted over several years with various vendors to
manufacture cartons with the Autozone trade name, Duralast. The changing
group of vendors who bought the Duralast cartons used them to package their
own automobile parts which they then sold to Autozone as "retail ready"
items.68 Autozone fostered Webcor's role in this production chain by directing
vendors to Webcor and by supplying Webcor with artwork and specifications
for Duralast packaging. Occasionally, Autozone purchased cartons from
Webcor for its own use...



and you can read the full case decision (if you're so inclined) here:




http://www.law.emory.edu/6circuit/sept98/98a0297p.06.html
Webcor Packaging Corporation, a Michigan corporation,
Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Autozone, Inc., a Nevada corporation,
Defendant-Appellee.

No. 96-2106

Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit

NATHANIEL R. JONES, Circuit Judge. The parties in this case have
framed the issue as one of first impression: whether the "ultimate
purchaser" of unique goods may be considered as the buyer for purposes
of the specially manufactured goods exception to the statute of
frauds. We conclude that the district court was correct in its
reliance upon the circumstances of manufacture. In doing so, we take
this opportunity to refine and extend the analysis of the district
court....




===============


[Professional Bull Riders v Autozone is another breach of contract
case, and I must say, is one of the more legally convoluted disputes I
have come across.  It was initially decided in favor of Autozone, but
has very recently (August 2005) been reversed by the Courts.  As a
result, this is still an ongoing action, and it's not clear who will
come out on top.  In a nutshell, Autozone verbally agreed to the terms
of a 2-year contract to sponsor the Professional Bull Riders, but felt
they had an option to terminate after a year.  PBR felt otherwise, and
want to hold Autozone to the full two years of sponsorship.  The
courts are working it out]




http://www.kscourts.org/ca10/cases/2005/08/03-1544.htm
PROFESSIONAL BULL RIDERS, INC., a Colorado corporation, 
Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross- Appellee, 
v. 
AUTOZONE, INC., a Nevada corporation, 
Defendant-Appellee/Cross- Appellant, 

SPEEDBAR, INC., 
Intervenor-Counterclaimant- Cross-Appellant
August 15, 2005



Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) filed this breach of contract
action against AutoZone, arguing that AutoZone entered into and then
breached an oral agreement to sponsor certain PBR events during 2001
and 2002: the Bud Light Cup Professional Bull Rider Series and the
Related Championship Finals. In response, AutoZone argued that the
agreement could not be performed within a year and was therefore void
under the Colorado statute of frauds, Colo. Rev. Stat.  38-10-112.
AutoZone and Speedbar, Inc. (its wholly- owned subsidiary and the
owner of the trademark "AutoZone") also asserted counterclaims for
service mark infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition,
and service mark dilution.

The district court granted summary judgment to AutoZone on PBR's
breach of contract claim. However, as to the trademark infringement
counterclaims, the court ruled against AutoZone and Speedbar, granting
summary judgment to PBR on the grounds that AutoZone and Speedbar had
failed to offer any evidence that they had suffered actual damages.

The parties appealed, and, in a prior order, we certified a question
involving the Colorado statute of frauds to the Colorado Supreme
Court. See Professional Bull Riders, Inc. v. AutoZone, Inc., Nos.
03-1544, 04-1029, 2005 WL 34494801 (10th Cir. Feb 03, 2005). The
Colorado Supreme Court has now answered our question. See Professional
Bull Riders, Inc. v. AutoZone, Inc., 113 P.3d 757 (Colo. 2005). In
light of that answer, we conclude that the district court erred in
granting summary judgment to AutoZone on PBR's breach of contract
claim. We further conclude that the district court erred in granting
summary judgment to PBR on the counterclaims asserted by AutoZone and
Speedbar. We therefore reverse the district court's decisions and
remand for proceedings consistent with this order and judgment...



=============== 



[An auto suppliers group calling itself "The Coalition for a Level
Playing Field" sued Autozone and other mega-autoparts stores for price
discrimination.  Many of the other companies settled out of court. 
Autozone refused to, forcing the case to court, where the ruling was
in favor of Autozone, but that's not necessarily the end of the story]


Here's the website of the Coalition:



http://www.lawmall.com/autopart/
Website for Auto Parts and Accessories Industry Price-Discrimination
Lawsuit - Coalition for a Level Playing Field, LLC, et al. v.
AutoZone, Inc., et. al, for Alleged Violation of Sections 2(a), 2(c)
and 2(f) of the Robinson-Patman Act, Filed 2/16/00

[there's a ton of industry-insider information here for anyone willing to dig]




[Here's an article about the lawsuit, and subsequent activity]


http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3306/is_2_114/ai_n6019410
Coalition's appeal denied, issue far from over
Aftermarket Business,  Feb, 2004





[And an excerpt from a law journal article...no hyperlink is available]

National Law Journal
April 7, 2003

Keeping cases in racing trim

In February 2000, the "Coalition for a Level Playing Field,"
representing more than 100 auto parts warehouse distributors and
jobbers, sued Autozone, Advance Auto Parts, Pep Boys, Wal-Mart and
five other national auto parts dealers, alleging price discrimination
in violation of the Robinson-Patman Act.

According to the complaint, filed in the Eastern District of New York,
Autozone and the other defendants obtained manufacturer discounts,
sham allowances and rebates that resulted in cheaper prices than those
offered to smaller auto parts wholesalers and retailers. The
plaintiffs sought injunctive relief and treble damages in excess of
$100 million.

Before the trial, the plaintiffs settled or dropped their claims
against all defendants, except Autozone and Advance Auto Parts. "We
feel that we operate at the highest ethical and legal standards, and
did not violate any laws," explained Goldsmith. The defendants
cooperated in the courtroom to defeat the plaintiffs' claim of
collusion in the marketplace, said Goldsmith.


===============


[And not really a contract/fraud case, but possibly of interest just the same...]


http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2003/feb/feb21a_03.html

AUTO PARTS RETAILERS PAY FOR  EXCESSIVE CAR BATTERY FEES

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today announced that the nation's two
leading auto parts retailers have agreed to pay $220,000 to settle a
case involving excessive fees on new car batteries.

AutoZone, Inc. of Memphis, Tennessee and Advance Stores Company, Inc.,
which does business as Advance Auto Parts, based in Roanoke, Virginia,
both settled allegations that they violated a state law that limits
the incentive fee charged to consumers purchasing lead-acid batteries.


===============



I trust this information fully answers your question.

However, if there's anything more I can do for you, just post a
Request for Clarification, and I'm happy to assist you further.

pafalafa-ga


search strategy --  Searched Google and a variety of specialty
databases for [ "v autozone" ]
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