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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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