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MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has announced that a consumer protection enforcement action brought by his office has resulted in a jury verdict against a travel club business, Travel Services, Inc., located in Litchfield, Illinois, and its principals, William Bailey and Christy Spensberger, of Carlinville, Illinois. After a six-day trial, the jury found on January 28, 2014, that the defendants engaged in deceptive practices in the marketing of memberships in their travel clubs to Wisconsin consumers, as well as other violations of state consumer protection laws.
The enforcement action also was brought against Going Places Travel Corporation and its owners and operators, Perry Ruiz and Lisa Ruiz, of West Allis, Wisconsin, who marketed memberships in Travel Services’ clubs in Brookfield and Appleton from 2006 to 2009. The court had previously found Going Places, Perry Ruiz and Lisa Ruiz in default in the case.
The case arose from the marketing of memberships in two travel clubs created and operated by Travel Services, Inc.: Castaways Vacations Club and Phoenix Vacation Club. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) started receiving consumer complaints about Going Places Travel and the clubs in 2007. Following an extensive investigation, DATCP referred the matter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for enforcement.
In its special verdict, the jury found, among other things, that documents produced by Travel Services, Inc. and provided to consumers contained untrue, deceptive or misleading representations regarding the geographic locations of the travel clubs and the discounts on travel available to club members. The jury also found that Travel Services, Inc., Bailey and Spensberger knowingly assisted Going Places Travel in making untrue, deceptive or misleading representations to consumers.
The Court will determine the appropriate penalties and other remedies at a later date. The State of Wisconsin has been represented in this matter by Assistant Attorneys General Lewis Beilin, John Greene and Phillip Ferris.