Notable Victories

Trial Victories and Significant Settlements Obtained by our Auto Fraud Legal Center

These are results of actual cases. They do not constitute a promise or warranty as to the result on your case. Every case is different.

Zelenitz v. Midland Funding, LLC

Rosner, Barry & Babbitt, LLP (“RBB”) obtained a victory over Midland Funding, LLC for Sue Zelenitz. Midland Funding sued Ms. Zelenitz for $7,948.58 based on a debt allegedly owed by Ms. Zelenitz to First Consumers National Bank. San Diego County Superior Court Case No. 37-2008-00077880-CL-CL-CTL. Midland Funding, LLC claimed to own the debt allegedly owed to First Consumer National Bank. Ms. Zelenitz denied owing the debt and sued Midland Funding for violation of state debt collection practices law. On Ms. Zelenitz’s behalf, RBB filed motions with the Court that lead the court to rule that not only did Ms. Zelenitz not owe Midland Funding anything, but Midland Funding had to pay Ms. Zelenitz $5,831.90 in damages. For more information on the case, please click here.

Thompson v. 10,000 RV
This is one of the most significant consumer cases in the country. Ms. Thompson, a senior citizen, purchased a used motorhome for $93,398. What she didn’t know was that the dealer overpaid for her trade-in and added $24,000 to the real sales price of $69,398. After she bought the motorhome, it didn’t work right and the dealer wouldn’t fix her coach. The trial verdict in her case was $363,372.23, which under the warranty law included a two-times penalty, and an additional $75,000 punitive damages, plus a $5,000 senior citizen penalty under the Consumers Legal Remedies Act. This part of the case was soon settled post-trial. The court also issued an injunction making it illegal for the dealer to ever manipulate the trade-in and purchase numbers as was done to Ms. Thompson. This is what truly scared the vehicle industry. Not only did the dealer appeal, it was also joined by the big car industry groups: the California Motion Car Dealer Association and California RV Dealers Association. The published and precedent-setting Appellate Court decision in 2005 was a huge victory not only for California consumers, but for consumers across the country. This is because California, like many states, includes federal law in their statute. As a result of this case, vehicle dealers cannot legally manipulate numbers as was done to Ms. Thompson and others: People have the right to be told what they are really paying and what the real trade-in value was.

O’Neal v. Major Motors
This judgment was entered in January 2006. Ms. O’Neal bought a used Porsche with 26,000 miles on it. More than 10 days later after the contract was signed, the dealership changed the contract and made her pay higher interest and payments. After the vehicle had 112,000-plus miles, it was improperly repossessed. At trial, Ms. O’Neal won over $60,000, including all her payments, down payment, punitive damages, and money for the wrongful repossession. All obligations of Ms. O’Neal for future payments or money due on the car were cancelled.

Timothy Bailey v. GPI SD-DC, Inc., et al. 
Mr. Bailey purchased a Chrysler Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle. It was not disclosed to him that the vehicle was a prior rental and had been in a prior accident. The dealer asked for an immediate settlement conference. Mr. Bailey’s individual claim was settled for a full repurchase and more. A class action settlement was reached on behalf of all consumers who purchased undisclosed prior rentals, entitling class members to $1,000 refunds from the dealership.

Gains v. Bosch Kia
Mr. Gains purchased a used vehicle. It was not disclosed to him that the vehicle was a prior rental and had been in an accident. A jury verdict in April 2005 resulted in a repurchase of the vehicle and $72,000 in punitive damages. Our understanding of California used car lemon laws helped this client and more.

Graciano v. Robinson Ford Sales
Ms. Graciano negotiated the purchase of her vehicle in Spanish. Yet she did not receive a Spanish-language translation of her contract; and the dealership failed to disclose the negative equity in her trade-in. After a jury verdict in April 2005 in her favor, the dealership agreed to settle the case by paying over $30,000 in punitive damages. This was on top of an earlier Lemon Law settlement.

McClanahan v. Fleetwood and Freightliner
The McClanahan’s purchased a Fleetwood motor home on a Freightliner chassis. The vehicle constantly overheated, tripping the engine code for overheating over 100 times. The jury found in April 2004 the vehicle was a lemon subject to repurchase by both Fleetwood and Freightliner, and imposed a $100,000 penalty against Freightliner.

Deloach v. Shaver Auto Center
Ms. Deloach was the lead plaintiff in a class action against Shaver Auto Center in San Bernardino for failing to tell consumers that the cars they were buying had previously been used as rental cars. Shaver Auto Center also altered documents after Ms. Deloach had bought her vehicle to make it appear as though she had been told that the car she was buying was a prior rental car. We obtained a substantial settlement for Ms. Deloach based on her individual claims, as well as $1,000 each to other consumers who bought rental cars without disclosure. Other groups of consumers also received payments.

Ballon v. Center Chevrolet and General Motors Corporation
The Ballons purchased what they thought was a "new" car from Center Chevrolet in San Bernardino. Although they were told that it was a new car, in actuality it had been previously sold to another consumer, and under the law had to be sold as used rather than new. In addition, the Ballons Chevrolet Silverado had oil consumption and engine knocking problems for which repairs had been unsuccessful. Based on these two claims, we obtained for the Ballons a settlement over $150,000.

Morales-Vargas v. Perry Ford of National City
Mr. Morales bought a Ford Mustang from Perry Ford of National City. Mr. Morales alleged that Perry Ford "packed" him with accessories such as GAP Insurance, a service contract, and an alarm system (meaning he did not know he was buying or paying extra for these items, in part because the transaction was negotiated in Spanish and Mr. Morales was not given a Spanish translation of the contract as required by law). Perry Ford also forced Mr. Morales to enter into a second contract in which they increased his Annual Percentage Rate ("APR"), monthly payment, and the cost of the same service contract he purchased in the first contract. The increase in the service contract was an illegal finance charge. Further, Mr. Morales had a California Lemon Law claim against Ford Motor Company because the vehicle pulled to one side. Based on all of these claims, we obtained a settlement for Mr. Morales that included a repurchase of his Mustang (meaning Ford paid off the loan on his car and he returned it to them), plus a $67,000 payment to him.

Mosco v. North County Jeep GMC Kia
Mr. Mosco purchased a used vehicle with low miles from North County Jeep GMC Kia. Approximately 9 days later, he was informed that he needed a co-signor and would have to sign a new contract. He was never informed that he had the right to return the vehicle and have all his money refunded rather than sign a new contract. Furthermore, the new contract was backdated to the date of the original contract, thus charging him interest from the date of the old contract rather than the new date. As a result, the Annual Percentage Rate ("APR") and finance charge disclosures were incorrect. This case was amended to a class action case and eventually ended in a settlement in which all persons with backdated contracts received refunds for the excessive interest paid. The dealership also agreed to stop the practice of backdating its contracts. Mr. Mosco, in addition to a small compensation for acting as class representative, also received a Lemon Law settlement from the manufacturer.

Boyd v. Perry Automotive Group
As in Mosco, Mr. Boyd purchased a vehicle and was later informed that he would have to sign a new contract. He was never informed that he had the right to return the vehicle and have all his money refunded rather than sign a new contract. Furthermore, the new contract was backdated to the date of the original contract, thus charging him interest from the date of the old contract rather than the new date. As a result, the Annual Percentage Rate ("APR") and finance charge disclosures were incorrect. This case was amended to a class action case and eventually ended in a settlement after the Court certified the case to proceed as a class. The dealership also claimed to have stopped the practice of backdating its contracts.

CALIFORNIA LEMON LAW VICTORIES
While most Lemon Law settlements contain a confidentiality clause as to the financial terms of settlement, we have been very successful in litigating cases against all major manufacturers. Our recent settlements include repurchases of the following vehicles: Nissan Titans and Armadas that suffered from rapid brake wear; a Nissan 350Z that went through five sets of tires in less than 45,000 miles; Ford F-150, F-250, F-350 and Escapes that suffered from engine defects including engine surging, engine stalling and frequent illumination of the check engine light; a Ford Focus with substantial undercarriage rust; and a Chevrolet Z-71 truck with an air bag light that went on and off intermittently, creating uncertainty of the safety of the vehicle in the event of an accident. We have also settled cases involving the following vehicles that stalled while driving: Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Rio, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Sequoia, and Chrysler 300. In addition, we settled a case involving a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a defective steering column, and have been successful in cases involving water leaks against Ford and General Motors. We recently resolved a case against Mercedes-Benz, pre-litigation, involving a CL600 in which the check engine light came on intermittently.

If you think that you purchased a lemon, please call the California auto fraud and lemon law lawyers of Rosner, Barry & Babbitt, LLP now to set up a consultation.