Consumer Protection Law
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While I cannot give you a specific dollar amount for the approximate damages you are entitled to, I can tell you that you are most likely entitled to not only the breach of contract damages, but also "compensatory damages" for negligence, and punitive damages for fraud.
The breach of contract damages can be calculated as "benefit of the bargain" meaning that you are entitled to the value of the car as it was represented to be. A 2006 vehicle that was ready 2 weeks after the contract was entered into. Instead you got a vehicle 3 years older much later, causing you loss of time and increased costs traveling to and from the shop. You are entitled to the difference. (These damages may be difficult to calculate, but the difference in value between the two vehicles should be straightforward as it seems the one you received is relatively worthless - it broke down as soon as you got it on the freeway), the cost to you for loss of time, travel costs, and costs of tickets, etc. would be something you would need to calculate (it may be difficult to get a recovery for your time, but you can certainly get a recovery for the amount spent on travel and defintitely for the tickets).
The negligence claims would relate to putting you on the road with unsafe vehicles - in fact, this can even be a reckless claim (which also carries punitive damages) - specifically with the hood latch issue causing you injury. You are entitled to damages for the mechanic's negligence in putting you on the road with unsafe and unregistered vehicles. Your recovery for the negligence aspects would be limited to actual damages (medical costs, tickets (additional claim to get recovery to the contract claim), pain and suffering for personal injury, and any property damage caused to your property by his negligence). The reckless aspect will open him up to punitive damages (he knew the hood latch was broken but allowed you to drive anyway - this is a known safety mechanism and a mechanic let you drive with it anyway).
The fraud claim is straightforward. He sold you one car and gave you another one after you paid for it. He made a material misrepresentation about the vehicle you were buying, you reasonably relied upon it, and you suffered economic damages due to the misrepresentation (a vehicle with double the miles and three years older, that was mechanically unsound). He will be liable for the actual damages (the difference in value (again a duplicative claim to recovery to the contract claim) plus punitive damages.
While you cannot request a specific value in punitive damages - they are set by the Court or Jury after trial and are calculated based on the defendant's bad conduct, many litigators use a "rule of thumb" that punitive damages usually equal 3x the actual damages (or compensatory damages) in a civil case. This of course is not a legal certainty, just something that is used by some lawyers in appraising the value of their case (I can make no representation that it is accurate in your situation, it may be much more or much less, but I hope it is helpful in getting an idea of what punitive damages are and how they are dealt with in the discretion of the courts).
Your car is not covered by the California State Lemon Laws, lemon laws cover new vehicles. http://oag.ca.gov/consumers/general/lemon However, as your mechanic did give you an express 2 year warranty, he is required to perform repairs for that period of time, or until the vehicle has "zero problems" as promised. If the mechanic is unable to do this task, you can sue to have him pay for another mechanic to perform these repairs.
I hope the above is helpful in assessing your position, I do wish there was a simpler way to go about enforcing your rights than to have to file a lawsuit against this mechanic, but perhaps the full range of recovery may make such a suit worthwhile. If you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to ask and I will follow up directly.
Thank you for using our service, please do not forget to rate my response when you are satisfied. i do wish you the best of luck in this matter. Best regards, Bill.
(I am going to switch our conversation over to the "Q&A" format to ensure that you can review my response and that I can answer any follow up questions you may have - some browsers have compatability issues with our "chat" function).
Can you give me approximates for the amount of damages I can expect?
If the breach of contract damages + fraud damages are measured the same way, does that mean you only get that figure once or do you get it for both things. For example: If the value of the car he was supposed to give me (2006 car w 70k miles) is $11,000, would I get 11,000 for both the breach of contract and fraud damages, or 22,000?
Also is there a formula for pain and suffering damages?
Are you able to recommend any attorneys within the Los Angeles region
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