MINNEAPOLIS - Claudette Larrieu’s accessible van means freedom for the Eagan woman.
“My van is everything to me,” she said. Larrieu is a quadriplegic. The 13-year-old van allows her to get to medical appointments and be active.
The van was rusty, so Larrieu took it to Uptown Auto Repair in Minneapolis to have it fixed. She wrote two cashier’s checks totaling $3,500.
“I just asked for auto repair,” she said. “Instead it was a set of problems from the get-go.”
Larrieu says the one week job turned into a month. Then, when her van was returned she says she wasn’t happy with the work. Paint drips are visible on the van. Plus, Larrieu claims the door and the mechanical lift were broken, making it difficult for her to use.
So Larrieu asked for her money back.
The owner of Uptown Auto Repair, Joel Scott, disagreed. He said he’d done all the work requested.
It would be a typical tale of an unhappy customer, except for Scott’s response.
In expletive-laden text messages, he called Larrieu, “a f----ing cripple.” He mocks her disability and her van.
Larrieu broke down in tears as she read the messages. “I’ve never been called a cripple before. I didn’t think that word existed in 2017,” she said.
Scott, the auto shop owner, declined an on-camera interview. Off camera, he says he performed the work he agreed to do on Larrieu’s car. He denies breaking the lift and says he doesn’t do mechanical work.
He called her attempt to get her money back “extortion.”
And as for the text messages, KARE 11 asked him, “do you regret calling her names and mocking her disability?”
His answer was no, not at the time.
Larrieu showed KARE 11 the estimates of what it will cost to repair her van. They’re more than before she took it to Uptown.
She’d hoped to eventually sell the van but says that’s not possible now. Larrieu is considering a lawsuit, but she says the money is secondary to the principle.
“Nobody should be treated like this,” she said.
Uptown Auto Body has been sued three times in the past year. They lost two cases and a third is pending.