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— The "people in Los Angeles" Collins speaks of were called the Trevor Law Group. Throughout 2002, Damian S. Trevor, Shane C. Han, and Allan C. Hendrickson, the three attorneys who made up the Beverly Hills law firm, filed suits against more than 2200 automobile-repair shops that were mostly owned by non-English speakers.

The plaintiff on the suits was a for-profit enterprise called California Watch Enforcement, which had the same mailing address as Trevor Law Group. The suits were based on minor violations of the Automotive Repair Act and were often issues already being addressed by the state's Bureau of Automotive Repairs. Trevor Law Group also filed suits against over 1000 restaurants.

The suits alleged unfair business practices under section 17200 of the California Business Code. That section, known as the Unfair Competition Law, is the same section quoted by Landers and Redd in the suits against San Diego used-car dealerships. (Landers and Redd did not return phone calls seeking comment.)

Trevor, Hendrickson, and Han collected millions of dollars in settlements until a year ago when, on the verge of being disbarred and being sued by state attorney general Bill Lockyer -- ironically under the same section 17200 code -- they voluntarily turned in their state bar cards. The suit against them is pending.

Knowing what happened in the Trevor Law Group case, Collins felt emboldened to fight instead of settle. He has a court date set for August of 2005. In the meantime, he's trying to build a coalition of the sued to fight alongside him. "If I can get 20 to 30 people to go after them with me, this will really change the whole tone of everything."

But that effort is not an easy one. Though four fellow dealers say they will join him, most, he says, "are cutting their losses."

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