A year ago last February, the FDA sent out the first of numerous warning letters to 18 companies marketing cannabidiol (CBD) products, regarding claims they were making about their products, in the hopes of protecting an unwitting and unknowing public, many naive to what CBD actually is. The letters that the companies received allege that […]
Bergen County Verdict in a car sales case
$174,000 verdict for purchaser who did not get the title
11-4-9287 Mehrnia v. Emporio Motor Group LLC, Chanc. Div.-Bergen Cnty. (Toskos, J.S.C.) (24 pp.) This case evolved from a dispute between several parties over their rights to the ownership of a used 2010 Ferrari. The car was sold several times. Plaintiff Mehrdad Mehrnia claimed that he purchased the vehicle for a price of $201,000. Defendant Hitfigure LLC claimed ownership of the 2010 Ferrari through a subsequent purchase for a price of $155,000. The dispute arose from the relationship between defendants Dream Cars National LLC and Gotham Dream Cars LLC and defendant Manhattan Leasing Enterprises Ltd. Gotham and Manhattan also claimed an ownership interest in the vehicle. At a time when Gotham was experiencing financial difficulties, Manhattan restructured their leasing arrangement, which led to Manhattan obtaining possession of the title to the 2010 Ferrari. Mehrnia purchased the car from Emporio Motor Group LLC, which had obtained the Ferrari from Manhattan. The Ferrari was later sold to Hitfigure. Mehrnia filed this litigation seeking a declaratory judgment that he was the owner of the Ferrari. He also asserted a consumer fraud and conversion claim against Gotham and Manhattan. Finally, Mehrnia included a civil conspiracy claim as to Emporio, Gotham and Manhattan, alleging that they conspired to deprive Mehrnia of his property.
FACTS – SUMMATION
The plaintiff has proved that the defendant has committed fraud/consumer fraud. The dealer advised the plaintiff that the car was without accident both verbally and in writing. The plaintiff proved (CARFAX) and it was admitted (Defense expert testimony) that the car was in a previous accident. Defense only disputed severity of the accident. Defense expert and the General Manager admitted that the dealer probably knew of the prior damage. He actually testified that the dealer did know that the car was in an accident. The car was inspected by used car manager, technicians, certification process (Lexus trained techs looking for accident damage) and elcometer use on car acquisitions. (THE USED CAR MANAGER NEVER TURNED UP TO TESTIFY) Even more significant is that this was a dealer not a Chevy dealer!! Who would be in a better position to know that the car was not in MFGR-HIGHLINE- FRONT LINE CONDITION? Nobody. The dealer’s claim or assertion of ignorance as to any prior damage is both insulting and incredulous. The Manufacturer representative testified that bondo should not be used on certified cars (not Lexus quality repair) and any through panel penetration would render a car non-certifiable. (This was his initial testimony and then there was a break and Ms. Lawyer asked him the same question and his answer mysteriously changed)
NEW JERSEY LAW AND THE CONSUMER FRAUD ACT
NO DIRECT CONTACT IS REQUIRED BETWEEN THE DEFENDANT AND THE CONSUMER
THE DEFENDANT’S ASSERTION THAT THEY ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE CONSUMER FRAUD ACT BECAUSE THEY DID NOT DIRECTLY SELL OR HAVE ANY DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE PLAINTIFF IS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE LAW, INCLUDING THE DEFINITION SECTION OF THE CONSUMER FRAUD ACT
A. NO DIRECT RELATIONSHIP OR CONTRACT IS REQUIRED BETWEEN THE PLAINTIFF AND DEFENDANT TO MAINTAIN A CLAIM UNDER THE CFA
The lack of a contractual relationship or privity does not automatically defeat a the plaintiff’s claim. The determination of whether a duty exists is generally considered a matter of law to be decided by the court. Carvalho v. Toll Bros. and Developers, supra, 143 N.J. at 572; S.P. v. Collier High School, 319 N.J.Super. 452, 467,(App.Div.1999). The assessment of fairness and policy “involves identifying, weighing, and balancing several factors-the relationship of the parties, the nature of the attendant risk, the opportunity and ability to exercise care, and the public interest in the proposed solution” Zielinsky v. Professional Appraisals 326 N.J.Super 219 (App.Div 1999).
There is no privity requirement to maintain a cause of action under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. In Alloway v. General Marine Ind., 149 N.J. 620 (1997), the Supreme Court held that the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act does not require privity to maintain a cause of action. In Alloway, the plaintiff purchased a defective boat, which was built by the (manufacturer) defendant. The plaintiff instituted suit against the manufacturer and other defendants for tort (negligence) and warranty claims. The Court dismissed the tort claims and permitted the plaintiff to proceed on the warranty claims, holding that privity was required for tort claims, but not for warranty type claims. The underpinnings of the decision were that the plaintiff had statutory avenues of remedy including, but not limited to, the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act to address economic injuries to property. Id. at 639 – 640. The Court specifically left unanswered whether or not tort or contract law applies to a product that poses a risk of causing personal injuries or property damage, but has caused only economic loss to the product itself.
The trend in the application of the Consumer Fraud Act has been to expand liability to those “upstream, in the chain of commerce,” including but not limited to remote suppliers of component parts whose products are passed on to a buyer and its representations are made to, or intended to be conveyed to the ultimate purchaser. Perth Amboy Iron Works v. Amhouse, 226 N.J. Super 200, 211 (App. Div. 1998).
Buying a Car is Awful Because… Tell me…
I have represented over a thousand people and have purchased many cars myself. Almost every experience related to me is the same. It sucked. The reasons are different BUT the results are the same. It sucked!! Take a look! Here too about the tricks.
I would describe it as follows:
(remember, innocent until proven otherwise)(these are only allegations and MUST be proven in court with admissible evidence)
The Division of consumer affairs has filed a complaint against Lencore Leasing, Inc., which does business as North Jersey Auto Mall and DCH Motors, and Lenny Belot, the owner/operator of the dealership,
Sometimes you just need to laugh. This is a commercial that some dealerships use to sell cars. Have you ever met a car salesman like this? They can sell cars!!
This is good too!!
The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is to be Watered Down, significantly.
New Jersey has one of the strongest Consumer Fraud Acts in the United States.
There is pending legislation to change the Consumer Fraud Act and make it easier to avoid civil penalties for fraud.
Amy Handlin and John McKeon are sponsoring an anti-consumer bill that would change the business landscape in New Jersey.
A key provision of the new New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act would exempt out of state transactions. This means the following: if someone in New Jersey commits consumer fraud upon a non-resident (living in NY, PA or CT) there are no consequences.
“a. apply only to transactions that take place in the State”
Car Salesmen and Dealerships to be Protected with Proposed Changes in Consumer Fraud Act.
Amy Handlin and Jack McKeon have sponsored and introduced ANTI-CONSUMER legislation to reduce consumer rights and protect car dealerships.
The changes in the Consumer Fraud Act would exempt or limit liability against businesses that are already regulated, such as car dealerships. It would also limit liability for consumers who consummate out-of-state transactions. This arguably contradicts other legislation that has been introduced to increase liability for those committing consumer fraud.