Consumers who filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office about Faial's Restaurant gift certificates should expect an affidavit to arrive in the mail in the coming days. Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin sent affidavits with letters of instruction to the more than 1,000 consumers who filed complaints with his office from consumers left holding useless gift certificates from Faial's when the restaurant unexpectedly closed last summer.
Consumers must complete the affidavit, have it notarized and return the affidavit along with an original gift certificate to the Office of Attorney General by July 15, 2016. Completed affidavits will be submitted to Rhode Island Superior Court as evidence of the total amount of restitution the Attorney General's Office is seeking against the owners of Faial's.
Consumers who lost or destroyed their gift certificates may still submit a claim, however, it will be left for the Court to determine the adequacy of the claims, based on the evidence presented.
"It is always our first hope that a business owner who finds himself in a situation like the Faria's will work with our office to resolve the consumer complaints and make the consumers whole again without having to file a lawsuit. We recognize the civil litigation process can take time, and we appreciate the patience of consumers through this process," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.
Consumers who have not filed a complaint with the Office of Attorney General, or who do not receive an affidavit in the mail, may request one by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
History: On or about June 25, 2015 Faials restaurant, a popular eatery in North Smithfield owned by Jose and Emilia Faria closed. It opened a few days later on the news that a possible buyer stepped forward only for the restaurant to shut its doors for good on July 7, 2015 when the sale fell through.
The Office began receiving complaints from customers who were left holding gift certificates to the restaurant in late June, and within a week of the restaurant closing, the office had received more than 150 complaints from consumers. That number of complaints steadily grew over the next few weeks, totally 1,110 consumer complaints with gift certificates allegedly valued at more than $152,000.
On July 10, 2015, the Office filed a Civil Investigative Demand, or CID, with Jose and Emelia Faria, requesting they appear before the Office of Attorney General to answer the consumer complaints.
The Faria's did appear before the Attorney General's Office as requested. Despite several attempts, the Office and Faria's failed to reach a resolution in the interest of the customers.
As such, the Office filed the lawsuit in Superior Court on February 2, 2016 seeking relief on behalf of the customers citing Faial's and the Faria's in violation of the State's Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the State's Unfair Sales Practices Act.
The State alleged the defendants violated the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (RIGL 6-13.1) and the Unfair Sales Practices Act (RIGL 16-13-12) by:
• Selling gift certificates for goods and services to Faial's customers, and subsequently failing to provide those goods and services; • failing to pay rebates to the customers who have purchased gift certificates • failing to offer to reimburse the consumers for their losses and have no reasonable explanation as to how the proceeds from the sale of the gift certificates were expended; and • failing to keep a list of people who purchased the gift certificates and the certificates themselves were not individually numbered
By law, the Faria's had 20 days to file what is referred to as "an answer" with the court, which is the first step a defendant would make in a civil lawsuit. For whatever reason, the Faria's nor their attorney filed an answer with the Court. Therefore, the State filed what is known as a motion for default, which the Court granted.