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Judges disagree over whether car ad implied drivability

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The Indiana Court of Appeals was divided on whether an Indianapolis car dealership was entitled to summary judgment on a buyer’s lawsuit that made Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, Crime Victims Relief Act, and fraud claims.

Heather Kesling purchased a 1996 Mitsubishi Eclipse from Hubler Nissan for a little more than $2,300. She saw an advertisement describing the car as a “Sporty Car at a Great Value Price.” She test drove the car and saw it was not idling correctly. She asked the salesman if anything was wrong with the car, and he said it probably just needed a tune up.

A little more than a year later, she filed her lawsuit. She had it inspected more than two years later. The inspector noted the car was covered in dust, only had 44 more miles on the odometer as compared to the sales order, and that the car had numerous problems that he believed should have been discovered by the dealer during an inspection. The inspector believed the car was unsafe to drive.

The trial court granted Hubler’s motion for summary judgment.

In Heather N. Kesling v. Hubler Nissan, Inc., 49A02-1111-CT-1031, Senior Judges John Sharpnack and Carr Darden found there to be a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Hubler made a representation in its advertisement that the car had performance, uses or benefits that it didn’t have and the dealer knew or should have known the car did not have those characteristics. The majority looked at the phrase “Sporty Car at a Great Value Price” and concluded a reasonable fact-finder could determine that Hubler implied the Eclipse was a good car for the price, and thus at a minimum, that it was safe to drive.

Judge Ezra Friedlander dissented, believing the advertisement did not run afoul of the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act and that the majority’s view is “simply unreasonable.” In his view, the phrase used conveys “virtually nothing” about the car to which it is attached and devoid of content relative to the car’s operating status.

The Court of Appeals also found issues of material fact on the fraud and Crime Victims Relief Act claims and remanded for further proceedings.

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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