In June 2012, plaintiff found a vehicle she liked on eBay, being sold by Auto Loox in Fairfax. The vehicle was listed for $5,995. Plaintiff contacted Auto Loox and agreed to purchase the vehicle for $5,995. The sale was “as is.” She paid $2,000 as a down payment, agreed to pay an additional $1,200 as a deferred down payment, and financed the remainder. She signed all purchase paperwork presented. When she got home, she realized that the dealership had increased the price of the vehicle to $6,995. That same day, she began experiencing problems with the vehicle, and contacted the dealership. The dealership refused to assist with the problems, but told her that when the finance company calls to confirm the details of the transaction, to tell them there was nothing wrong with the vehicle. Plaintiff refused to lie to the finance company. In response, the dealership pulled the transaction back from the finance company, and repossessed the vehicle. The finance company sent a credit denial letter, indicating that the credit was approved, but the seller had withdrawn the financing request. The dealership at first denied that it had repossessed the vehicle, but ultimately admitted it to the plaintiff. However, they refused to refund plaintiff’s down payment. In August 2012, the dealership subsequently relisted the vehicle for sale on eBay.
Plaintiff tried to resolve the matter herself, and through counsel, prior to filing suit. The initial demand was for a refund of her down payment and reimbursement of attorney fees, which at the time was $500. The dealership ignored her demands. Plaintiff filed suit for violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, conversion, wrongful repossession and violation of the Uniform Commercial Code. During the course of the litigation, plaintiff filed a subpoena duces tecum to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, and discovered that the vehicle had never been registered in Virginia. Pursuant to subpoenas to the dealership, it was discovered that the dealership never had title assigned to it. Despite the finance company letter indicating the financing was approved but the dealership withdrew the financing request, the dealership testified at trial that the financing was denied because plaintiff had failed to provide documentation of the income. The dealership also testified that it had never relisted the vehicle for sale on eBay after taking it back, and claimed that the subsequent listing was just because eBay was slow in removing listings. However, eBay assigns an item number to each listing, and the June and August listings had different item numbers. Despite placing the vehicle for sale, the defendant did not provide any notice of intent to sell, as required by the UCC.
The court awarded plaintiff judgment on all counts. Plaintiff’s $2,000 compensatory damages demand was tripled to $6,000 for the bait and switch advertising violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. She was awarded $2,341.20 for statutory damages for the violation of the UCC. The court also awarded $10,000 in punitive damages for the conversion. Finally, the court awarded all attorney fees requested, in the amount of $6,512. The total award was thus $24,853.20, plus court costs.[14-T-063]
Type of action: Conversion, violation of the VCPA, violation of the UCC, wrongful repossession
Name of case: Terreforte v. Rohani Investment, Inc. t/a Auto Loox
Court: Fairfax County General District Court
Case no.: GV13015344-00
Tried before: Judge
Judge: Penney S. Azcarate
Demand: Return of $2,000 down payment plus attorneys fees
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Amount: $24,853.20, plus court costs
Attorney for plaintiff: Thomas R. Breeden, Manassas
Attorney for defendant: Fred M. Rejali, McLean