PRESS RELEASE MARCH 13, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Santa Barbara, CA | March 13, 2015
Michael Johnson filed a class action lawsuit against R&R Auction Company, LLC, an auction house that sells autographed memorabilia, alleging violations of California’s consumer protection laws. Mr. Johnson alleges in his lawsuit that R&R Auction conducted bait-and-switch marketing by claiming, “Each autographed item [sold] is accompanied by a full 100% lifetime guarantee of authenticity.” R&R Auction backed this guarantee with an explicit offer to refund the full purchase price of any autographed item that was later determined to be inauthentic. R&R Auction marketed this guarantee in its marketing materials, written publications, website, and self-generated certificates of authenticity that accompanied every signed item that it sold to California consumers, including Mr. Johnson. However, Mr. Johnson discovered that R&R Auction never really confirmed the authenticity of signed memorabilia it sold and further refused to honor its advertised refund policy.
Mr. Johnson’s lawsuit alleges that he purchased over $130,000 in signed memorabilia from R&R Auction between 2008 and 2012. However, he later discovered that all of the signed items he purchased were forgeries, after having them reevaluated by an independent autograph authentication company. When he attempted to obtain a refund from R&R Auction, the company simply refused to honor it’s advertised “lifetime guarantee of authenticity.” Mr. Johnson’s lawsuit alleges violations of California’s consumer protection laws, including the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, on behalf of himself and all other customers residing in California who fell victim to R&R Auction’s fraudulent practices.
On March 13, 2015, the Santa Barbara Superior Court denied certification of Mr. Johnson’s proposed class of California consumers who purchased forged memorabilia from R&R Auction. The Court did not rule on the merits of Mr. Johnson’s claims, but instead, determined that the case could not procedurally be tried as a class action because of individualized issues involving autographed items purchased by the members of the proposed class. Essentially, the Court ruled that anyone that was sold forged items during 2008-2012 would have the ability to pursue their own individual claims against R&R. In addition to the ability for others to now pursue their own cases against R&R Auction for the purchase of inauthentic items, the Burris evidence demonstrates that another class action or suit in State or Federal Courts may be filed against R&R for shill bidding.
In spite of the Court’s ruling on class certification, Mr. Johnson and his attorneys, Christman, Kelley & Clarke, PC, are movinng forward with Mr. Johnson’s lawsuit against R&R Auction. In addition to Mr. Johnson’s claims that R&R Auction sold him fake memorabilia, Mr. Johnson recently discovered from a former R&R employee that R&R Auction engaged in a systematic scheme to defraud its customers by engaging in “shill bidding” through conspiring with others to bid on memorabilia it auctions on its website with the intent to artificially increase its price or desirability. He discovered this after receiving a copy of a signed and notarized affidavit from Karen Burris, a former RR Auction employee who passed away shortly after executing the affidavit. Ms. Burris’ sworn affidavit implicates R&R Auction in a variety of illegal activities, including shill bidding and the knowing sale of forged memorabilia to its customers.
Mr. Johnson’s attorneys intend to amend his complaint to assert these additional violations of consumer protection laws. This includes potential violations of California Civil Code section 1739.7, which prohibits the sale of fake autographed memorabilia, and provides for the recovery of attorneys’ fees and a civil penalty in an amount equal to 10 times actual damages. With his estimated actual damages of $130,000, Mr. Johnson intends to request a civil penalty of at least $1.3 million. Matthew Clarke of Christman Kelley & Clarke, PC believes that this is another step in the right direction of ultimately making Mr. Johnson whole and holding R&R Auction accountable for its fraudulent and deceptive business practices. END ###