A Glimmer of Hope? Consumer Lives to Fight Dealer Another Day

A recent case from the North Carolina Court of Appeals provides a glimmer..or two…of hope for a consumer in spite of the fact that the case poses some problems.  In Hester v. Hubert Vester Ford, Inc. the Court, in a unanimous 3-0 decision, held the consumer could proceed forward on claims of fraud and unfair and deceptive trade practices versus the dealership whom the consumer alleged tricked her into signing a second finance contract. All claims made by the consumer against a dealership employee were dismissed.  A few points to be made though..

The consumer, for whatever reason, did not retain or produce a copy of the first contract she signed.  And as to the second finance contract the consumer readily admitted she did not read it before signing.  Further, the consumer clearly failed to make the payments required under the second contract and this led to the vehicle being [apparently legally] repossessed.  Each of these facts raises a red flag when considering the strength of a case and the combined effect of them casts a serious cloud over the case but the consumer may be able to work around these to obtain some favorable resolution of the case.  The operative word here is “may”…..

Lessons here?  Keep copies of ALL your documents and do not keep them in the vehicle.  Read all documents and forms carefully before signing and ask questions before signing. And perhaps most important, at the moment you find yourself in a sticky position with a car dealer, business, or other party you should consult an attorney before taking any action.

Last but not least, best of the best to the consumer in pursuing this claim when it returns to the trial court level in Bladen County.  I would anticipate the case will be settled and never make it to trial.


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