Case Result:

A franchise dealership purchased a vehicle several days prior to its purchase by the Plaintiffs. Prior to the dealership purchasing the vehicle, it had ben issued four different titles.

In February 2003, the Plaintiffs began negotiations for the purchase of the van that the dealership said they owned. The two sides came to an agreement about the price of the vehicle. The Plaintiffs advised the dealership that they had a trade-in, and they would also need financing. The dealership would take care of DMV title and paperwork. The Plaintiffs were given 30-day Temporary tags and were advised to transfer the license plates from their trade-in vehicle to the vehicle bought at the dealership.

It is believed that the dealership’s employee suggested transferring tags from the other vehicle, rather than simply using 30-day paper tags indicated on the 30-day temporary registration, since she knew she could not get permanent registration for the vehicle within 30 days, and even though the 30-day registration would run out, at least the vehicle would have permanent plates on it.

The vehicle was sold and delivered to the Plaintiffs, yet the dealership had not secured a certificate of title for it, nor did it possess the certificate of title to the vehicle at that time, nor had the vehicle’s title been assigned to it at that time. At the time of sale of the vehicle to the Plaintiffs, the vehicle was owned and titled in the name of another person or company. At the time the dealership sold the vehicle to the Plaintiffs, the Defendants knew the dealership did not have possession of title to the vehicle, they knew that no title document for the vehicle had been assigned to the dealer and knew the dealer had not secured title to the vehicle in its’ name. This was a clear violation of the Code of Virginia laws.

The title to the vehicle was not delivered or assigned to the dealership by the prior owner until over a year after the dealership sold the vehicle to the Plaintiffs, and was never provided to the creditor to whom the credit contract for the vehicle was assigned.

When the Plaintiffs’ temporary tags expired, they asked the dealership about the problem. They were informed, by the same employee, that she would go down to DMV herself and straighten out the problem. For several months, the same employee said that there was a problem at DMV and it was their fault. Several months went by without any response from the same employee.

About a year after the original sale of the vehicle, the Plaintiffs paid off the loan. At that point, they asked the finance company for the title to the vehicle. The finance company stated that it did not have a title, but that the dealership had it At this point an inquiry to DMV was made to find out on what car the license plates were registered to. The Plaintiffs discovered that the plates were not registered to any vehicle, after which they notified the dealer that they wanted to cancel the sale since the title was never put into the Plaintiffs’ name, and because they were driving in an vehicle which had never been registered with DMV, which was improperly licensed, and which they believed put them at risk with the police for breaking the law. The Plaintiffs then attempted to cancel the contract and returned the vehicle to the dealership.

Not until over fourteen months after the purchase, and after the vehicle had been returned to the dealership by the Plaintiffs, did the dealership cause an application for a duplicate title to be issued in the prior owner’s name, which it is believed that the dealership then assigned to the Plaintiffs without their authorization.

After returning the vehicle the Plaintiffs were forced to purchase another vehicle from another dealer to take the place of the vehicle from the first dealership. The Plaintiffs have been damaged because they fully paid for a vehicle that was never put in their name prior to them cancelling the contract and returning the vehicle and then never received a refund of their money once they cancelled the contract. Thus they are out not only the full purchase price plus the interest they paid on the loan, but also the vehicle, plus the cost of the substitute transportation, plus their inconvenience and embarrassment.

In January 2008, the matter was resolved by a cash payment with the agreement of all parties. The terms of the settlement are confidential.