Court: Disputed model year may void van sale agreement

December 29, 2015

A trial court erred when it granted summary judgment in favor of the seller of a van who represented to the buyer the vehicle was a year newer than recorded on the title.

John Barker gave Jason Price a $2,000 deposit as part of an agreement to purchase a Ford E-350 van for $15,000, but he balked when the title was in the name of a third party and when the vehicle’s model year was 1993 instead of 1994, according to the title. Barker demanded Price refund the $2,000 deposit, but Price refused.

Barker sued, but Price won summary judgment in Howard Superior Court, which ruled the contract between the parties didn’t condition the sale on the year of the vehicle and that a title in another’s name is a valid certificate.

Court of Appeals Judge Edward Najam wrote for the panel that the trial court correctly interpreted the law regarding a third party’s name on a title, but erred in granting summary judgment in the dispute over the model year.

“(T)he deposit agreement is not the entire agreement between Barker and Price. Accordingly, the trial court erred when it concluded that the deposit agreement precluded Barker’s claim that the model year was a term material to the parties’ agreement for sale of the van,” Najam wrote in John Barker and Specialty Limos, LLC v. Jason Price, 24A02-1506-PL-626.

“And we cannot say that the designated evidence otherwise shows that Price is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on this issue. We reverse the court’s entry of summary judgment for Price and remand for further proceedings. On remand, the court shall consider not only the deposit agreement but also extrinsic evidence to determine whether, as between the parties, the model year was a term material to their agreement.”


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