TITLE 5
Businesses and Professions

CHAPTER 5-38.3
Motor Vehicle Repair Shop Act

SECTION 5-38.3-5


§ 5-38.3-5 Investigation – Procedure – Remedies for failure to comply.

(a) When it appears to the attorney general that a person has engaged in, is engaging in, or is about to engage in, any act or practice declared to be unlawful by this chapter, or when the attorney general believes it to be in the public interest that an investigation should be made to ascertain whether a person in fact has engaged in, is engaging in, or is about to engage in, any act or practice declared to be unlawful by this chapter, he or she may execute, in writing, and serve, upon any person who is believed to have information, documentary material, or physical evidence relevant to the alleged or suspected violation, an investigative demand, stating the general subject matter of the investigation and the statute and section the alleged or suspected violation of which is under investigation, and requiring the person to furnish, under oath or otherwise, a report, in writing, stating the relevant facts and circumstances of which the person has knowledge, or to appear and testify, or to produce relevant documentary material or physical evidence for examination, at any reasonable time and place that may be stated in the investigative demand, concerning the deceptive and/or fraudulent practice in the repair of motor vehicles or the conduct of any trade or commerce that is the subject matter of the investigation. All civil investigative demands shall be filed in the superior court of the county in which the person served with the demand dwells or has his or her principal place of business.

(b) At any time before the return date specified in an investigative demand, or within twenty (20) days after the demand has been served, whichever period is shorter, a petition to extend the return date or to modify or set aside the demand, stating good cause, may be filed in the superior court in which the person served with the demand dwells or has his or her principal place of business, or in the superior court of Providence County.

(c) To accomplish the objectives and to carry out the duties prescribed by this chapter, the attorney general, in addition to other powers conferred upon him or her by this chapter, may issue subpoenas to any person, administer an oath or affirmation to any person, conduct hearings in aid of any investigation or inquiry; provided, that none of the powers conferred by this chapter shall be used for the purpose of compelling any natural person to furnish testimony or evidence which might tend to incriminate that person or subject him or her to a penalty or forfeiture. Information obtained pursuant to the powers conferred by this chapter shall not be made public or disclosed by the attorney general or his or her employees beyond the extent necessary for law enforcement purposes in the public interest.

(d) Service of any notice, demand, or subpoena under this chapter shall be made personally within this state, but if personal service cannot be obtained, substituted service may be made in the following manner:

(1) Personal service outside this state;

(2) The mailing by registered or certified mail to the last known place of business, residence, or abode within or outside this state of the person for whom the service is intended;

(3) As to any person other than a natural person, in the manner provided in the rules of civil procedure as if a complaint or other pleading which institutes a civil proceeding had been filed; or

(4) Any service that the superior court may direct in lieu of personal service within this state.

(e) A person upon whom a demand is served pursuant to the provisions of this section shall comply with the terms of the demand unless otherwise provided. Subject to the protections provided for in subsection (c) of this section relating to self incrimination, any person who, with intent to avoid, evade, or prevent compliance, in whole or in part, with any civil investigative demand under this section, removes from any place, conceals, withholds, or destroys, mutilates, alters, or by any other means falsifies any documentary material in the possession, custody, or control of any person subject of any demand, or knowingly conceals any relevant information, shall be fined not more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500).

(f) If any person fails or refuses to file any statement or report, or obey any subpoena or investigative demand issued by the attorney general, the attorney general may file in the superior court of the county in which the person dwells or can be found, or has his or her principal place of business, or of Providence County, if the superior court at that county is not in session, or if the person is a nonresident or has no principal place of business in this state, or of the other county that may be agreed upon by the parties to the petition, and serve upon the person a petition for an order of the court for the enforcement of this section, and the petition may request and the court has jurisdiction to grant after notice and hearing, an order:

(1) Granting injunctive relief to restrain the person from engaging in the deceptive and/or fraudulent practice in the repair of motor vehicles or the conduct of any trade or commerce that is involved in the alleged or suspected violation;

(2) Vacating, annulling, or suspending the corporate charter of a corporation created by or under the laws of this state or revoking or suspending the certificate of authority to do business in this state of a foreign corporation or revoking or suspending any other licenses, permits, or certificates issued pursuant to law to the person which are used to further the allegedly unlawful practice; and

(3) Granting any other relief that may be required, until the person files the statement or report, or obeys the subpoena or investigative demand.

(4) Any final order entered is subject to appeal to the state supreme court. Any disobedience of any final order entered under this section by any court shall be punished as a contempt of the order.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1994, ch. 371, § 1.)