Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission seeks former Tate's Auto customers

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Office of Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission is searching for people who bought vehicles from Tate's Auto Group because they may be eligible to participate in the $450,000 settlement between the defunct business and the Federal Trade Commission.

The office is seeking individuals who purchased vehicles from Tate's dealerships between Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2018.

However, if the person received payment in 2021 from the Santander Settlement, a separate settlement between a coalition of 34 attorneys general and the Santander Consumer USA Inc., they are not eligible for the Tate's settlement.

Tate's used to operate a dealership in Gallup and also had dealerships in the Arizona communities of Holbrook, Show Low and Winslow.

The FTC filed a complaint in 2018 that accused Richard Berry, owner and manager of Tate's Auto Group, and Linda Tate, owner and president of Tate's Auto, of falsifying consumer information on financing documents.

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Since the dealerships were located in border towns, many customers were members of the Navajo Nation and the practice harmed them financially, the human rights commission reported to the FTC.

The FTC and Berry reached a settlement in July 2021. A federal judge in Arizona approved the settlement later that month.

The action against Linda Tate was dismissed with prejudice, according to court documents.

According to the human rights commission office, the FTC estimates 4,000 individuals may be eligible for the settlement and is compiling current mailing address for those individuals.

Sandi Wilson, the office's human rights investigator, said reaching consumers on the Navajo Nation can be problematic because some frequently change their mailing addresses, so the office is helping with the outreach and want to hear from customers by March 18.

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The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission can be reached at 928-871-7436.

"I think the most important part of us, and the commission is that no matter if it's just $5, $10 or $100 – some amount of money is returned to the Navajo consumers," Leonard Gorman, the office's executive director, said. "I think that's a very, very important piece of the work that we do."

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. Support local journalism with a digital subscription to The Daily Times.