New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Awarded $1.26 Million Judgment Against Home Furniture and Furnishings Company That Committed Fraud Against Consumers
Newark - A State Superior Court Judge has found that JLT Millworks, Inc.,and its principal, Janice Tupper, 44, of Green Brook Township, (collectively, "JLT Millworks") committed over 100 acts of fraud against consumers and entered a $1.26 million Final Judgment by Default against the company and Tupper. The Attorney General and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs had previously filed a complaint against JLT Millworks, Inc., and Tupper in November 2013.
Judge Stephan C. Hansbury in Morristown found that JLT Millworkscommitted 117 violations of the State's Consumer Fraud Act and its Furniture and Furnishings regulations. The State had alleged in its complaint that Tupper collected thousands of dollars in deposits and payments from individual consumers and then, among other things, JLT Millworks failed to provide consumers with contracted-for home furniture and furnishings or delivered damaged or non-conforming home furniture and furnishings.
"The facts presented in court spoke volumes as to the egregious treatment of consumers by JLT Millworks," Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. "We're pleased that the court granted our request to permanently bar the company's owner, Janice Tupper, from ever again owning or operating a business in New Jersey, in addition to ordering consumer restitution and civil penalties."
Judge Hansbury, in his statement of reasons filed with the Final Judgment by Default, noted, "This matter is not a case of technical violations of rules, such as delivery dates. This case involves the most egregious type of consumer fraud - taking money from customers; not providing the material and refusing to refund deposits."
JLT Millworks operated at various times from Mendham, Morris County and New Brunswick, Middlesex County. The company advertised that it sold custom-made home furniture and furnishings, including wood flooring, beams, mantels and siding. JLT Millworks also did business as Lumber Jane Millworks, Lumber Jane Wide Plank Flooring, Lumber Jane Barn Beams, Lumber Jane Rustic Mantels and Lumber Jane Antique Barn Siding.
"Furniture and furnishing complaints are consistently one of the Division's top complaint categories year after year," said Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs Steve Lee. "This $1.26 million judgment against JLT Millworks sends a clear message to other businesses engaging in fraudulent practices to stop such practices immediately or face serious consequences under the law."
The Court's Order revoked the corporate charter of JLT Millworks. The $1.26 million Judgment includes $1.17 million in civil penalties, $66,537.05 in consumer restitution and $30,700.95 in reimbursements to the State for its attorneys' fees and investigative costs.
Tupper did not appear in Court and failed to respond to the lawsuit. The State will determine what assets are available to satisfy the terms of the Final Judgment by Default.
Investigator Jared O'Cone in the Division of Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection investigated this matter.
Deputy Attorney General David M. Reap in the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section of the Division of Law, represented the State.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.
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