Time for the Popehat Signal: Missouri Car Dealership Sues Over Criticism

New Popehat Signal courtesy of Nigel Lew.  Thanks, Nigel!

It's time for the Popehat Signal, by which we seek pro bono assistance in defending the First Amendment. I learned of this case through Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen, whose important work in support of free speech I've often praised here.

Dwayne Cooney took his car to Jim Butler Chevrolet of Fenton, Missouri. When most of us leave our cars to be serviced, we're left to guess exactly what the mechanics did to it. But Cooney, who works in security, has a dashboard camera, which he left on. He believed that the footage showed that Jim Butler Chevrolet overbilled and charged for work they did not perform. He posted the footage on YouTube.

Jim Butler Chevrolet claims that Cooney is wrong and has deceitfully edited the video, and that the video does not show all of the work that was actually done. They could have responded to Cooney's speech with more speech, but they took the censorious route and sued for defamation, even going as far as to seek an injunction to take Cooney's videos down. Incredibly, a judge issued a temporary restraining order, a plainly unconstitutional prior restraint of speech.

Missouri attorney Martin J. Buckley, with assistance from Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen, convinced the judge to dissolve the temporary restraining order. But now Cooley's homeowner's insurance is refusing to cover his defense. The Jim Butler Chevrolet dealership is suing for damages and still seeking to have Cooley's criticism taken down. Cooley needs help. If you are an attorney in Missouri, please consider stepping up to assist him in defending this suit.

You can find Cooley's video here. Paul Alan Levy has the pleadings here. The dealership maintains that Cooley's video was misleading. Without prejudging that claim, free speech disputes are best resolved with competent counsel on both sides. Moreover, I am not inclined to believe a plaintiff who seeks a patently unconstitutional injunction against speech; rather, I'm inclined to view them as someone willing to abuse the legal system to silence criticism.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Joe Schmoe says

    Shouldn't it be easy to do a test of turning off the camera the same way that the mechanics did and seeing if the timestamps change?

  2. Matthew Cline says

    In a case like this, since manufacturing false documentation is just as easy as deceitfully editing a video, wouldn't the plaintiff have no chance of winning?

  3. shorpshireblue says

    I do see the free speech case. But why isn't there also a fraud investigation by the police?

    Is the dealership billing for more hours per day than it has people working?

    Are they installing more or fewer whats its than they have received from GM?

    Does the current door lock receiver have the serial number of a door lock receiver the dealership received (if I understood the video correctly, they said they didn't replace the door lock receiver)?

    Is the airbag wiring harness still in a factory fresh state or had it been un-clipped for diagnostic purposes and re-attached? (You can do a quick continuity check without removing the wiring harness, but if your doing something with the wiring that takes over an hour you must be removing the harness and checking it physically, there is not much else you can do with a bundle of wires that only has two ends.)

    Stuff like that. IF this was fraud there should be plenty of physical evidence besides the video.

    And IF fraud happened to other car owners are the same dealership, but they did not have video cameras running, again in many cases there will be plenty of physical evidence of original equipment still in the car, or equipment with new serial numbers, or wiring harnesses never touched.

  4. NotPiffany says

    Is the dealership billing for more hours per day than it has people working?

    According to one of the articles Ken linked to, this is exactly the issue. The dealer billed Cooney for 4.5 hours of labor (and claimed it actually took over 5), but the video (allegedly) showed the mechanics fixing the problems in 1.5 hours.

  5. says

    Don't service techs use 'flat rate' billing as in the Chilton manual etc? As long as I can remember, the standard practice is to go by the book, not actual hours. Here's a link to one explanation. This could account for at least some of the discrepancy, eh?

  6. That Anonymous Coward says

    Heh I enjoyed reading them tweeting over and over what would you do!!
    I guess the thought that didn't occur to them was to handle this legally without managing to trigger the Streisand Effect with the bizarre overreaching. Just because corporations are 'people' now still doesn't mean they get special rights.

    No idea about the merits of the case on either side, but when one side tries to abuse the law… kinda puts me on the side of the other guy.

  7. A. Nagy says


    I need to watch the video still, but if the mechanics fixed the problems in 1.5hours…but there were lets say 3 of them that's 4.5 hours of labor. Combined with 1 guy doing 30 minutes of random paperwork crap offscreen is not entirely unbelievable. Normally I only see 2 guys at most working on a car at once for any sustained period of time.

    @Dr. Duck
    Normally I see flat rates for routine things they do all the time, and per hour rates for when it's more complicated and/or they have to spend hours to find out exactly what's wrong with it first.

  8. JonasB says

    Wouldn't editing a video to falsely represent the dealership and posting it online count as defamation, though? The dealership's position is this is what occured, so under those grounds a defamation suit and take down notice seem appropriate actions. They're not saying "This is hurtful to us", they're saying "this has been intentionally falsified and is hurtful to us".

  9. Brian Kemp says

    Yes, falsely cutting a video (such that it no longer reflected the truth) would be defamation JonasB – recall that the truth is an affirmative defense in defamation cases in the US – but in order to prove that there should be a trial, not just this censorious TRO. One side doesn't get to have their say simply because they have more money.

  10. Cory Weale says

    Like stated above by Dr Duck, car repair is typically billed by book hours. In theory it protects the consumer by not having to pay extra time for an incompetent tech but in reality any tech should be able to beat the book rate by a significant margin. I do not work in the automotive field but my Dad used to (owned a salvage yard) and doing 4.5 hours of book work in 1.5 hours of actual time does not surprise me.

  11. JonasB says

    Kemp: The judge was later persuaded to dissolve the order. I'm not sure that supports your argument.

  12. Trent says

    Only small mechanics charge per actual hour (usually because they have higher rates). Every large mechanic operation, in particular dealerships, charge book rate labor charges. This is all explained to you in the paper work given when you pay. It doesn't matter if the mechanic took 10 minutes to fix it, if the book rate is 2.75 hours that's what you pay. If you don't want to pay book rate you have to negotiate not paying it up front which is going to mean finding a new mechanic, and certainly not going to a dealership.

    Incidentally this is how mechanics get decent pay. They have incentive to do the work faster than the book rate and in doing so they make more money. This is because Mechanics usually choose to be paid as a portion of the book rate rather than per hour. A good mechanic that can beat the book rate can make upwards of $20 an hour with no upper limit, I've met several that averaged $30 a hour by being super fast.

  13. pharniel says

    To follow up with what Trent already ninja'd me on – but this is also why most states require an up front written estimate that you sign.
    The shop gives you a price, you agree to it and if it takes them less 'time' then it doesn't matter, you agreed to the minimum price.

    In Michigan any additional work requires a verbal notification and estimate ("that'll be 350 more..") but the terms are discussed in dollar amounts not hours.

    What he could sue for Fraud for would be if they said they performed an operation but did not actually perform that work – not the time as these are just 'estimates' with no expectation to change piece work charged if it takes .5 hours or 10.

  14. tsrblke says


    I would argue that pursuing the injunction in the first place was bad form.

    Perhaps sound under the "let's see what we can get away with theory."
    And indeed, getting critics to shut up, is generally good for your business (provided you stay under the Streisand effect threshold) but that doesn't mean we should just let that fly.

    Having said that, SLAPP is a growing problem here in MO that we seem to burn back every now and then only to have it get worse again. Our protections are weak and reactionary at best.

  15. Fred Ferkel says

    I am confused by Ken's comment: "Moreover, I am not inclined to believe a plaintiff who seeks a patently unconstitutional injunction against speech; rather, I'm inclined to view them as someone willing to abuse the legal system to silence criticism."

    As Ken points out, people don't go to court, lawyers go to court. I'm quite willing to join in the abuse of Jim Butler Chevrolet, but shouldn't the great majority of the abuse be heaped upon Dutro E. Campbell of Husch Blackwell LLP. He signed the pleadings and the request for a temporary restraining order. He's the person who sold his services so that he could get his client a "patently unconstitutional injunction against speech."

    And, why is Jim Butler Chevrolet such a heinous offender when a judge issued the "patently unconstitutional injunction against speech"?

    Setting aside the cases in which the client is the attorney, words such as "patently unconstitutional" make me think of the Disciplinary Rules. I don't expect GM or Jim Butler to understand the law, but when an attorney gets paid and a judge gets paid, I do expect them to understand the law and to receive their fair share of opprobrium when they abuse the process.

  16. Jan says

    @Joe Schmoe
    I don't know if this is the case, but it is a common problem with this camera. Due to poor design it gets quite hot, which in summer, sometimes results in a failure of internal battery. -> every time the camera is off, the time stops. (got the same problem)

  17. Dion Starfire says

    Stupid question: Why is the judges ruling to remove a video already posted considered prior restraint?

    Is it because the content hasn't been proven defamatory yet, or is this one of those legal definitions that doesn't quite match up with common usage at first glance?

  18. says

    AS an insurance professional, I was intrigued by your comment "But now Cooley's homeowner's insurance is refusing to cover his defense. "

    I clicked on that link — it didn't say anything about a refusal to defend.

    Assuming that it is true, any idea what basis the insurance company is using to recuse (not sure if correct word) itself?

    Also, you've got the car owner as both Cooley and Cooney in the post.

  19. says

    While it looks possible that the dealership has a case here, this is bad customer service 101. Even if Mr. Cooley is being an unreasonable pain in the neck, comping him a few hours of labor is almost always going to be cheaper than dealing with negative publicity and a lawsuit.

  20. DonaldB says

    As noted above, it's common for car repair shops to use "book time".

    This isn't specifically a subject of the case, but "book time" is a bit of a scam. There are several competing publishers, and their major point of competition is how high long of a time they list for jobs, without sounding absurd. Their marketing on this point isn't blatant, but it's not subtle either.

    Book time is typically 2x to 3x the time an experienced mechanic actually takes. The excess is nominally to cover unpredictable problems such as rusted fasteners, and sometimes partial diagnosis. But you'll typically find that any problems are added to the bill, rather than being covered.

    Charging 'book time' also results in mechanics taking any short-cut they can, like bending aside surrounding parts rather than removing them, and not replacing covers. "Forgetting" to reinstall splash shields saves time, but will likely lead to major long-term problems.

  21. EPWJ says

    He's being sued correctly, this is not a first amendment case but a clear case of defamation. Everyone knows dealerships bill by the book cost. And not all work is done under the car – many parts have to be pre assembled.

    Not only was the pre-meditated – but I tend to not believe those who try to set up someone and then don't show all the raw footage

    It is troubling that we have to have preliminary injunctions against free speech but – then again the courts are problematic and the cost to another party for someone's deliberate act outweighs a theoretically evolving legal definition

  22. Burnside says

    "Everyone knows dealerships bill by the book cost."

    You must have a strange definition of everyone because I'm willing to bet that this is not common knowledge at all.

    More importantly, having looked at all the available information, I'm failing to find where this might have been "pre-meditated." Having a dash cam is not pre-meditation. In today's world of insane traffic stops and fender bender lawsuits, I consider it a reasonable precaution (although not one that I employ). I fail to see anywhere in any document where it's shown or even implied that this guy was trying to set up the dealership.

  23. EPWJ says


    Its a standard industry practice since the 60's – independent also pay for the estimating service as well.

    Sure he did

  24. andrew says

    Wouldn't homeboy's ultimate point—that the work performed does not correspond to the billed hours—still not translate to according-to-Hoyle defamation? Independent of common industry practice, the ultimate point would then be reduced to a matter of opinion: "even if the standard billing practice is that this service is per se billed at X hours, that practice is unreasonable when you compare it to the overall work performed. Here is my video evidence that informs my opinion."

  25. Aaron says

    1. You have Cooney misspelled as Cooley a few places.

    2. None of the links mention that the homeowner's insurance is not paying for his defense. Two links specifically state the homeowner's insurance is paying for libel defense. Which is it? Is the Popehat signal actually in need here if the customer already has representation and the ability to pay for said representation?

  26. Jack says

    @EPWJ yes, mechanics typically use the "book time" for repairs, but if you look at what was wrong with the car and what they charged for, it doesn't match up. The only actual work done on the car was the reprogramming of the 2 key-fobs and replacement of a single fuse, a fuse that THEY likely messed up in the first place since they previously worked on that the last time it was in.

    The service tech messed up plain and simple. He totally missed the simple missing fuse (even though the bill says it was checked first) because he likely assumed, without diagnosis, that it was a "bulletin" fix. It looks like after doing the repairs he realized it didn't fix the problem – since the only problem was a missing fuse. So, he billed for the completely unneeded repairs to cover up his stupidity. Also – the service rep flat out LIED to him by claiming they actually worked on it for more than 5 hours.

    I am much more inclined to believe Cooney based on what I have seen. He put EVERYTHING out on the table: the video, the bills, the book times, the bulletins, everything. From where I am sitting, it looks like a simple "whoops" moment on the part of a mechanic who didn't want to eat the cost of messing up, so billed the client for a bunch of unneeded crap.

    His bill should have been for 0.3 hours to diagnose the keyfobs (what the bulletin states), the book-rate for reprogramming the keyfobs, and that's it…

  27. Sad Panda says

    So to all the people talking about how it was "book rate" billing, do the recorded phone conversations fit in with your view of the case? I.e. does "book rate" include telling the customer that the mechanic(s) worked on the problem for all the time he was billed for and then some?

  28. MCB says

    "Also – the service rep flat out LIED to him by claiming they actually worked on it for more than 5 hours."

    Yes, I am wondering if people have watched the video. Nowhere in that customer service call to they say "oh yeah, it didn't take that long, but we bill by book time." Instead they say in essence "oh, it took even longer, but we cut your bill to be nice." [at least that's my interpretation.] I don't know what happened with this case, but the book time issue seems to me to not be relevant to what the video purports to expose. Customer service reps should not "explain" a bill by misrepresenting what happened.

    Now, perhaps there is more in the video not shown, or more to the call, or something. But as it stands, the book time argument seems to me to miss the point.

  29. T.B. says

    You are all missing something here: The tech told his coworker he found the problem, and it was a fuse in the wrong place. But then he told the service advisor it was "an open circuit", which is a LIE BY OMISSION. The service advisor isnt a tech, and repeated the techs words that "they had to fix a wiring issue". It is NOT PERMISSABLE by any manufacturer to repair or modify an airbag wiring harness or component UNLESS there is a specified recall. So 1) if the misplaced fuse was the problem, what was the wiring issue?? If repairing the wiring harness fixed the issue, would the system still not work due to the misplaced fuse? The wiring issue was a lie pure and simple. Notice how the "nuts and bolts", that is, the technical aspect of this repair was not brought up by the owner Sowers, nor was any mention made of the service manager.
    The tech should have tested all powers as a 1st step, but he didnt. When he found the misplaced fuse he covered his time using "the open circuit" ploy.
    In my opinion, the dealership should have refunded the money to Mr. Cooney, filled his tank, washed his car, and offered 3 free oil changes to turn a negative situation into a positive experience. Especially if they were the ones that misplaced the fuse at a prior service visit as Mr Cooney claims.
    Customer loyalty and retention is the name of the game these days, and for this dealership, it's "GAME OVER".

  30. Burnside says


    I still disagree that common practices in the auto mechanic industry would be considered common knowledge, but it's really not that important in the great scheme of things to belabor that point.

    One thing that I was confused about with the video is that the time stamps in the captions seem slightly different than the time stamps on the teeny tiny fine print on the camera. For example, when they pull the car back in the garage, the caption says it's like 2:19 or something, but the timestamp seems to say 2:52, I think. Am I not reading it correctly?

  31. Cory Weale says

    I admit I didn't watch the video. The comments by NotPiffany and Dr Duck prompted my response. It is impossible to defend the dealership in regards to their lying to the customer.

  32. EPWJ says

    Burnside an all other auto mechanic experts, its how the industry works. Okay lets say for arguments sake that iit was a 50 cent switch not a 1500 dollar gizmo that was wrong and that everyone is culpable.

    The point is you cannot record people without their knowledge on their property. Then you cannot deliberately misstate the recordings on a public venue.

    whether or not subject A was not certified to give opinion B or part C was really charged for part D does not negate the actions of the defendant

  33. ZarroTsu says

    @EPWJ As someone who does not own a drivers license or vehicle, I can guarantee you, and you'd be hard pressed to prove otherwise, that I was never aware of any by-the-book billing practices until having read the comments above.

    The point is you cannot record people without their knowledge on their property.


    (a) Isn't the camera mounted on the vehicle that is his property? (b) Isn't the camera recording actions within the scope of the vehicle, his property, itself?

    Either way, this isn't an argument of whether or not the mechanics did their (actual) job correctly (or so the information presented leads me to assume); that information could be dismissed as irrelevant outside of making the situation clear. It matters the amount of time in which the car sat unmoving in a parking lot post-maintenance. Time was passing. Nothing was occurring. Explain how one can claim ownership over 'nothing'.

  34. CJK Fossman says


    The point is you cannot record people without their knowledge on their property.

    Um, citation? Or is this one of those things that everybody knows, like the mechanics' flat rate book?

    deliberately misstate the recordings on a public venue.

    Is there something other than repeated assertion to back this up?

  35. EPWJ says

    Well no one likes auto mechanics, they rate up thee with punters, IRS and TSA agents

    Please show me a citation where it IS legal to record someone on their property without their consent and then edit the contents onto a public venue to resolve a dispute?

    Ask James Okeefe how well that worked out for him – and he caught people breaking the law!! and still has his benefactors paying out fairly large payments for people who's net worth wasn't in that range to be damaged

  36. MCB says

    "Please show me a citation where it IS legal to record someone on their property without their consent and then edit the contents onto a public venue to resolve a dispute?"

    I see. So it is your contention that something is illegal unless explicitly authorized. That has to be a rough way to live your life.

  37. says

    The Popehat signal is always incredibly frustrating for me. I am not a lawyer, I'm a high school graduate (barely) who went to art school — yeah, that was a constructive use of time; I'd have been better served by truck driving school — and took various random courses at community college. IASUNAL: I Am So Unbelievably Not A Lawyer.

    And the ideas I think up to "help" are invariably violent and illegal. Not necessarily at the same time, but still. Besides, I'm a little past the age where standing on someone's neck while tapping a baseball bat on the ground next to his face is very practical. With my back problems, that gig is past; mayhem requires the health and agility of youth. Outrunning cops when you may or may not be dependent on a cane that day just don't cut the mustard.

    So if someone has any suggestions how a cranky old punk in California with a bad back and no edjamucayshun can be useful when the Popehat Signal comes up, hey, respond to this. I'll check back.

    (P.S.: I don't have a baseball bat anymore. However, a wood maul with a five pound head is even more effective, so I'm not out of the game completely.)

  38. EPWJ says

    MCB follow me out here, why do the police need a warrant for a wiretap? Why is there a huge brouhaha over the NSA? Why when you call customer service is there a msg warning that you may be recorded.

    What some are contending here – that its okay to violate someone else's legal rights to privacy because – well – they are evil

    not how it works

    I'm not a real big fan of preliminary injunctions especially on well – anything – injunctions in civil matters seem to be evolving into coercion and leverage more tan protecting parties from njustice

  39. Dan says

    If the defendant has edited the video to misrepresent what the dealership said and/or did (which, to my knowledge, has not been established, though you seem to believe it's the case), that could definitely subject him to liability for libel. It doesn't justify a TRO or preliminary injunction prohibiting further publication, but it would justify an award of money damages.

    Your "privacy" argument is a pure red herring. You'll note, if you read the complaint, that the dealership isn't even trying to argue that point.

  40. CJK Fossman says


    This website: click here has a pretty good information about recording.

    It says,
    Regardless of the state, it is almost always illegal to record
    a conversation to which you are not a party, do not have
    consent to tape, and could not naturally overhear.

    It would be interesting to know how this situation would play out in court, were such a charge made. I think I know your opinion already.

    Is an auto mechanic evil because he's an an auto mechanic? No.

    In this specific instance, it appears that the dealership fumbled a diagnosis, performed unnecessary work as a result of their bad diagnosis and then lied to the customer about it.

    How would you characterize the dealership's behavior?

  41. Panzersage says


    You first state that he is being sued correctly as it is defamation because of the "book hours".

    You claim that it is defamation because they told him that it took 5 hours(X) of work time when the book says 4 hours (X-1) and the actual time it took was 1.5 hours (X-3.5).

    How is this in any way defamation? If they took 1.5 (X-3.5) hours to do the work but claim 5 (X) hours to do the actual work then it is not defamation to point out that it actually took them the 1.5 hours.

    By this same regards, I hire a group of movers and they quote me that it will take 4 hours to do the work. I leave and they finish moving my belongings in 1.5 hours and then bill me for 5 hours, but then knock the bill down to 4 hours as a gesture of good faith. I have hidden camera footage that shows they only actually worked for 1.5 hours (Let's say they just sat around chatting for the other 2.5 or even that they finished in 1 hour and then left) by your logic it would be defamation for me to post the security footage showing that they lied.

  42. EPWJ says

    Please anyone show me in the State of Mississippi the statute that allows someone to record you in your own private property and post it to the public

  43. Dwayne Cooney says

    Hello PopeHat, I am the customer in this situation. Thank you or sending resources my way. There has been a new and very serious development in this situation;

    The owner and an employee of Jim Butler Chevrolet posted my personally identifiable information on several websites in poorly redacted documents and in plain sight. A police report has been filed and screen shots and proof have been turned over to the police.

    I trusted Jim Butler Chevrolet with my personal information in our business transaction. Per the FBI, we are now at risk of identity theft, banking & credit fraud, impersonation, exploitation, predators, stalkers and more due to the compromise of our personal information that we trusted to Jim Butler Chevrolet.

    General Motors and Chevrolet Customer Care have REFUSED to get involved in this matter.

    We are now forced to go to extremes to protect our bank accounts, credit, personal safety and more. This careless action by Jim Butler Chevrolet has caused nothing but chaos.

    In a Jim Butler Commercial, the owner states;
    "Always focusing on doing what's right for our customers made Jim Butler St. Louis' top Chevy dealer".

    "… and you gain peoples trust by treating them honestly, with no surprises. We get that."

    General Motors Company U.S. Consumer Privacy Statement

    Jim Butler Automotive Group Privacy Policy

  44. Dan says

    It doesn't work that way. Under American law, whatever is not prohibited is allowed. Please show us the statute that makes the recording in this case illegal. I again note that the dealership (whose case for an injunction would be considerably strengthened if the law were as you suggest) has not made any claim that the recording was illegal.

  45. Laura says

    You should also have the case reviewed by a consumer protection lawyer. When a car dealer or any business commits an unfair or deceptive act or practice (UDAP), statutory law in most states allows the consumer to recover damages, and in some cases requires the business to pay the attorney fees incurred by the consumer's lawyer. To find a qualified consumer protection lawyer, go to http://www.NACA.net (National Association of Consumer Advocates). It is common practice for car dealers to bill by the book for many tasks, especially warranty work. Such billing is not considered deceptive, though it may be surprising to many people. It is deceptive, however, for the dealer to lie to the customer about how long the work took, instead of just explaining the book price practice. It is also deceptive for the dealer to claim work was done, if the work was not in fact done. If a consumer protection lawyer accepts that part of the case and proves in court that the dealer committed an unfair or deceptive act or practice, that will go a long way toward establishing "truth" as a defense to any defamation claim. You still need a lawyer to defend against the dealer's claims, but getting a consumer protection lawyer could help with the case and also provide a means of forcing the wrongdoer to pay fees for at least some of the work.

  46. EPWJ says


    Umm, no.


    been a practice in all 50 states and in ALL municipalities for almost 1/2 a century

    what has never ever been allowed to record someone inside their private property without their permission

  47. Dan says


    Umm, yes. If you assert that something is illegal, it's your burden to show what makes it illegal. If there's nothing making it illegal, under American law, it's legal.

    What statute states that it's legal for you to eat chocolate?

  48. EPWJ says


    I would point you to the STLtoday article – where you admitted things that made it seem not only premeditated, buyt you also admitted to possibly being wrong.

    Now you involve this blog by coming here and claiming that the FBI advised you? That you are under risk?

    My advice, I would stop making statements, I would seek the help of an attorney or I would settle this thing because, don't let commentators and public interest groups drag you into something – you are the only one at risk the people who are suing you are very much in the right and have an astonishing reputation with the BBB – for a car dealership 11 complaints in several years considering their volume – it could be a record.

    Long court battles have no winners

  49. KJM says

    I read the STLtoday article. I did not see any premeditation. The customer being sued has a camera to protect his vehicle and he accidentally recorded a possible fraud. If you accidentally record any crime, how could it not be admissible? As these cameras become more popular, does the castle law extend to allowing citizens to protect their vehicle with unmanned surveillance equipment? If it is allowed ion the home, why not your personal vehicle? What if the vehicle was an RV or other mobile living quarters?

    In his reply above, he referenced risks "per" the FBI. Explain how he claimed that they advised him personally? We don't know if he spoke to them or simply read advice by the FBI in identity theft risks.

    There are many angles to this story but the camera is something I see constitutional attorneys being interested in if it is challenged.

    Also, If the business has cameras already, which this business claims to have, there is no expectation of privacy. There is no automotive garage I know of that would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    Either way, if the dealer does not settle out of court, it will be a PR nightmare that will be taught in business classes for years.

  50. AlphaCentauri says

    Someone from Butler Chevrolet had better find out if EPWJ is one of their employees and if so, talk to him privately about how not to let this one situation destroy their reputation.

    Most people just accept that car repairs cost more than they would prefer, and that they're going to have to pay for having their headlights aligned no matter how well aligned they are before they bring their car in for inspection.

    But "long court battles have no winners?" I'd stay far away from a business with that motto.

  51. sxjkv says

    EPWJ: "Moe troubling documents against Mr Cooney."

    And…. Jim Butler Chevrolet has joined the discussion.

    If this is the documentation they plan to use in court, I would have a field day. Where do I sign up for the Defense?

  52. Dan says

    Well, it's true–long court battles don't have any winners, except possibly the lawyers (and even that is questionable sometimes). That said, EPWJ does post as though he has personal knowledge of facts which aren't part of the public record. He also posts as though he lacks a fundamental understanding of how American law operates, but that's a separate issue.

    How about it, EPWJ? What's your connection to this case? If you're one of the parties, I think it'd be appropriate if you identified that. If you're not one of the parties, how do you "know" that, for example, that Mr. Cooney "deliberately misstate[d] the recordings on a public venue"?

  53. EPWJ says


    No, I'm not one of the parties to the case – Cooney apparently said in an interview that he always leaves the recording units on – he deliberately misstated the contents – read the STL today article

    He really needs to stop talking to the public nd let his attorney's handle it

  54. AlphaCentauri says

    "apparently said in an interview" — you've got more faith in reporters' notes than I do. That's why there are rules against hearsay in court.

  55. EPWJ says


    they were quoting him – Cooney – who said he didn't know what work they did on other days – I was shocked when the popehat signal went up I really thought it was going to be for the dealership against a guy who puts up spy stuff and calls it security…..

    You understand why he doesn't name his employer right?

  56. Richard says

    EPWJ (Jim Butler Chevrolet),

    The BBB judgment doesn't hold any water. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the BBB means something to your case.

    After reading the BBB complaint found on the defendant's web site, it appears that it was administratively closed before the defendant responded to the plaintiff's claims. In this case, administratively closed could simply mean that it was closed because the complainant did not respond in time. Administratively closed could literally mean anything.

    Don't make the mistake of putting a lot into the BBB. I could easily have any BBB documents thrown out of a case. The BBB income is generated from selling memberships to businesses and collecting yearly membership fees. The BBB has nothing to do with any governmental body and does not receive any financial assistance from the government. Without the public belief in the BBB being impartial, honest and providing accurate information, the BBB would cease to exist.


  57. EPWJ says


    A judge and a Jury might strongly disagree with your information concerning the BBB

    An independent agency handling complaints for millions of business entities is irrelevant, over someone who installs spy gear – er – I mean surveillance equipment (wink wink nudge nudge) I think is another not so winning legal strategy for Cooney

  58. Dan says

    I read the STL Today article, and don't see where Cooney is quoted saying that he misstated the contents (deliberately or not) of the video. So I again ask: If you aren't one of the parties, what is your source for your certain knowledge that Cooney deliberately misstated what his camera recorded?

    If the merits of this case make it to a jury, they will have three questions to answer: (1) Are the claims Cooney is making substantially true? (2) If the claims are false, are they willfully false? (3) If the claims are willfully false, did the dealer suffer any harm from them? The BBB records simply aren't relevant to this dispute, nor is the reason that Cooney keeps a camera in his car. I'm not sure why you believe those subjects are relevant here, but they aren't.

  59. CJK Fossman says


    An independent agency

    A bureau funded by its subscribers is not independent.

    Maybe this story from the New York Times about the BBB will help: click here.

    It seems you have an interest in this case. Care to tell us why this is such a burr under your saddle?