(j) The Dealer Recovery Trust Fund Board is hereby created. The Board shall consist of the Secretary of State, or his or her designee, who shall serve as chair, the Attorney General, or his or her designee, who shall serve as secretary, and one person alternatively representing new and independent Illinois automobile dealers, selected collectively by the Attorney General, or his or her designee, and the Secretary of State, or his or her designee. The Secretary of State may propose procedures and employ personnel as necessary to implement this Section. The Board shall meet quarterly, and as needed, as directed by the chair. The Board may not pay out any claims before the balance deposited into the Fund exceeds $500,000. Board meetings shall be open to the public. The Board has the authority to take any action by at least a two-thirds majority vote.
(k) The following persons may apply to the Board for reimbursement from the Dealer Recovery Trust Fund:
(i) A retail customer who, on or after October 1,
(l) To be considered by the Board, an applicant must submit his or her claim to the Board within 9 months after the date of the transaction that gave rise to the claim.
(m) At each meeting of the Board, it shall consider all claims that are properly submitted to it on forms prescribed by the Secretary of State at least 30 days before the date of the Board's meeting. Before the Board may consider a claim against a dealer, it must make a written determination that the dealer has filed for bankruptcy under the provisions of 11 U.S.C. Chapter 7; that the Secretary of State has revoked his or her dealer's license; or that the license has been otherwise terminated. Once the Board has made this determination, it may consider the applicant's claim against the dealer. If a two-thirds majority of the Board determines that the dealer has committed a violation under subsection (k), it shall grant the applicant's claim. Except as otherwise provided in this Section, the maximum amount of any award for a claim under paragraph (i) of subsection (k) of this Section shall be equal to the amount of the unpaid balance of the lien that the dealer agreed to pay off on behalf of the applicant as shown on the bill of sale or the retail installment sales contract. The maximum amount of any claim under paragraph (ii) or (iii) of subsection (k) of this Section shall be equal to the amount of the undisclosed lien. However, no award for a claim under subsection (k) of this Section shall exceed $35,000.
(n) If the balance in the Fund at the time of any Board meeting is less than the amount of the total amount of all claims awarded at that meeting, then all awards made at that meeting shall be reduced, pro rata, so that the amount of claims does not exceed the balance in the Fund. Before it reviews new claims, the Board shall issue written orders to pay the remaining portion of any claims that were so reduced, provided that the balance in the Fund is sufficient to pay those claims.
(o) Whenever the balance of the Fund falls below $500,000, the Board may charge dealers
an additional assessment of up to $50 to bring the balance to at least $500,000.
Not more than one additional assessment may be made against a dealer in any 12-month period.
(p) If the total amount of claims awarded against any dealer exceeds 33% of the balance in the Fund, the Board may permanently reduce the amount of those claims, pro rata, so that those claims do not exceed 33% of the balance in the Fund.
(q) The Board shall issue a written order directing the Fund Administrator to pay an applicant's claim to a secured party where the Board has received a signed agreement between the applicant and the secured party holding the lien. The agreement must (i) state that the applicant and the secured party agree to accept payment from the Fund to the secured party as settlement in full of all claims against the dealer; and (ii) release the lien and the title, if applicable, to the vehicle that was the subject of the claim. The written order shall state the amount of the claim and the name and address of the secured party to whom the claim shall be paid. The Fund Administrator shall pay the claim within 30 days after it receives the Board's order.
(r) No dealer or principal associated with a dealer's license is eligible for licensure, renewal or relicensure until the full amount of reimbursement for an unpaid claim, plus interest as determined by the Board, is paid to the Fund. Nothing in this Section shall limit the authority of the Secretary of State to suspend, revoke, or levy civil penalties against a dealer, nor shall full repayment of the amount owed to the Fund nullify or modify the effect of any action by the Secretary.
(s) Nothing in this Section shall limit the right of any person to seek relief though civil action against any other person as an alternative to seeking reimbursement from the Fund.
(Source: P.A. 97-480, eff. 10-1-11.)