I'd like to share an example of a case that we got resolved recently against a car dealer. The dealer was Toledo-based Taylor Cadillac, Inc. They operate a dealership in Findlay, Ohio under the name Taylor Kia. My client, who bought a car at the Findlay Taylor dealership, alleged the following:
- Taylor had bought a certain 2013 Hyundai Elantra at an auction in Michigan.
- The Hyundai had previously been owned and operated by a rental car company, and used as a daily rental.
- The Hyundai had previously been crashed.
- Taylor obtained a vehicle history report that showed the Hyundai's prior rental use.
- When my client went to the Taylor dealership, she asked about another car, but was directed by a salesman to a different Taylor lot, and specifically to the Hyundai.
- Even though Taylor knew about the car's history, at least the rental history, no one from Taylor told my client about it -- even though there is a box on the contract labeled "Rental Vehicle."
- Without any clue about the car's history, my client bought the Hyundai, with the "Rental Vehicle" box not checked.
There were other details of our complaint, but the gist of it was that Taylor was required by law to tell my client about the prior rental history, because it knew about it. Later, my client found out about the history, and wanted to unwind the deal.
We filed suit against Taylor and the finance company involved, for unfair and deceptive acts, and for fraud. Shortly after the law suit was filed, Taylor made a two-part offer:
1) my client could either give the car back, get all her money back (including all her payments to the finance company and the value of her trade in), and Taylor would pay off all the money owed to the finance company, and would pay $2,500 for her attorney's fees and court costs, or
2) my client could accept a slightly higher amount of cash for herself and keep the Hyundai, but would still have to pay the finance company on her installment contract.
What would you do? Considering the car's history, my client did not want to take the chance that something major would go wrong. So we accepted the first offer, and my client can buy another car -- somewhere else, of course.
If you want to read the details, the Complaint in our lawsuit is here: Complaint
The details of how the case was resolved are here, in our: Notice of Acceptance of Defendant Taylor Cadillac, Inc.'s Cure Offer
Taylor did not admit any wrong-doing. And to be clear, the finance company was sued only because we alleged that the law makes it responsible to a certain degree for Taylor's alleged fraud and deceptive acts. The Court did not get to the point of deciding who was right or wrong.
If you think you have a case against a car dealer, keep in mind that every case is different. (Although sometimes I do see some patterns in he behavior of certain car dealers.)
Also, I'll use this opportunity to remind my readers not to sign an arbitration agreement. You might lose important rights to sue in court. More on arbitration, here.
Greg Reichenbach, Attorney at Law
PO Box 256
Bluffton OH 45817
Phone: (419) 529-8300