WRONGFUL REPOSSESSION CLAIMS, CLASS ACTIONS AND CONSUMER FRAUD
A brief review of the internet on the search wrongful repossession class action will yield a plethora of results indicating that this is an extensive, ripe and very litigious area of law both on the individual and class action basis. When you are dealing with wrongful repossession on an individual basis or a wrongful repossession on a class action basis, it seems to mostly arise out of the processing of paperwork either before, during or after the actual repossession.
On occasion, the wrongful repossession deals with the inappropriate conduct of a repossession company or an agent of the repossession company. However, as previously set forth, most of the lawsuits, class actions and wrongful repossession, and consumer fraud lawsuits arise out of the post-repossession notice of intent to sell and post-sale paperwork, which would include necessary accounting.
What makes the wrongful repossession cases necessarily excellent candidates for class action treatment is that there are specific delineated statutory damages contained under the Uniform Commercial Code. As a note, these damages are cumulative to the damages contained under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. As an example, in most cases, wrongful repossession damages might equal the finance charges plus a certain 10% penalty assessed to the entity who wrongfully repossessed or dispossessed the collateral.
The issue of damages in the context of wrongful repossession lawsuits and wrongful repossession claims usually arises out of the demand for the statutory damages.
However, there are common law damages arising out of wrongful repossession claims, such as conversion of the vehicle itself as well as property contained therein. The concept underlying a conversion claim is that the defendant repossession company had no right to repossess the vehicle and when they did, they in essence ‘converted’ the subject vehicle. This is a tort based on exercise of property rights and has its base in the most basic concepts of American law. However, what happens when a vehicle was repossessed and returned shortly thereafter or is not damaged?
This appears to be the underlying logic behind certain statutory damages contained in the Uniform Commercial Code for wrongful repossession. As an aside, a potential plaintiff might have additional out-of-pocket losses associated with a wrongful repossession, such as transportation charges, storage charges, towing charges, excess finance charges or any other specific out-of-pocket losses directly related or closely related to the wrongful repossession of the vehicle. On the certain circumstances, one might allege that since they did not have a motor vehicle in order to travel to their job, they were fired as a result of not having a vehicle. This type of claim would be appropriate under most basic concepts of ‘proximate cause’ in New Jersey jurisprudence. So not only are there statutory damages and property damages associated with a wrongful repossession claim, but there might be significant consequential damage which would be loss of a job, effect of the credit history and anything else arising from a plaintiff not having the vehicle for a significant period of time.