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LegalGems
LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
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In May we consigned our motorhome for rental to a company.

Customer Question

In May we consigned our motorhome for rental to a company. When we left our motorhome with them it had no significant damage and we told them about turn signals that did work but needed to be fixed so that they were easier to operate.
Since we have a transportation company and have access to GPS tracking devices we installed one in the motorhome. The owner of the rental facility was told after he took the motorhome overnight, and refused to pay for it (another question all together), that we had a GPS system in it.
About 4 or 5 days ago we noticed that the motorhome was in a junk yard. We were able to contact the junkyard. The renter had run the motorhome off the road and bent the cross-member that supports the engine and broke a motor mount. The junkyard couldn't fully fix the frame damage so they heated it up and pounded it back, but it has lost a lot of it's original integrity. We were also informed by the junkyard proprietor that the slide on the coach was out at least 3" from the coach and that the motorhome had overheated several times getting into the shop. We asked at that time to speak to the renter. The renter said that the slide had been that way when he picked it up and that the rental place told him it was safe. He further stated that when the engine started to overheat he contacted the rental place. They told him there was nothing they could do and that they needed to "limp it in". We are concerned at this point that the engine has been severely damaged since the junkyard said they saw oil leaking.
Worst of all we've heard nothing from the rental facility. They haven't informed us of any of this information. They have been slow to pay and slow to answer any time we contact them. I'm wondering if we have any legal recourse. I'm not sure what the law states about reporting frame damage to a service like carfax. I'm afraid that they have depreciated the value of my motorhome and that the damage has been sufficient enough that it will cause me great personal loss. What is my potential recourse if any? Can we make them buy the coach from us for what we owe plus give us the money for the rental as well as the lost revenue from other rentals that would have otherwise happened? At this point I believe it is still the rental facilities intent to rent it out even though the motorhome is in obvious need of repair for safety purposes.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  LegalGems replied 7 months ago.

I am sorry to hear this.

There are 2 possible avenues for recovery.
The first would be for breach of contract.

An agreement must contain four essential elements to be regarded as a contract. If any one of them is missing, the agreement will not be legally binding.
1. Offer
2. Acceptance
3. Intention (meeting of the minds)
4. Consideration (fair value exchanged)

For breach of a contract, there is a material breach (goes to the very heart of the matter) and an immaterial breach (money damages will help compensate the plaintiff).

In cases of material breach, the party not in breach may revoke their acceptance, so goods/payment are returned.

For immaterial breach, the plaintiff is compensated by the defendant paying for the damages (ie cost of repair).

If the frame is bent that is generally considered material because it has a great impact on the ability to resell the item (many people will not buy a bent frame, and the seller must disclose this).

Negligence is defined as a failure to perform with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but may consist of omissions when there is some duty to act. This cause of action has 5 elements: the existence of a legal duty to exercise reasonable care; a failure to exercise reasonable care; harm caused by the negligent conduct; physical harm of actual damages; and proximate cause (reasonably foreseeable damages).

It is the rental companies responsibility to ensure that the MH was returned in the same condition after each rental; so if they failed to do this the court would likely hold them responsible for any damages precisely because their omission created the issue.

I am not sure of the value of the MH (value prior to the damage) but that would generally be the damages one would request. If greater than $5,000 small claims (https://www.courts.wa.gov/newsinfo/resources/?altMenu=smal&fa=newsinfo_jury.Scc) would not be appropriate; one would need to bring suit in general civil court.

Here is a sample complaint letter

http://www.atg.wa.gov/complaint-letter

It is usually sent first, to show the judge a good faith attempt to resolve the matter without litigation; if that does not prove successful, the next step would be to file a court complaint.

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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

Expert:  LegalGems replied 7 months ago.
Hello. I was checking in to see if you had any questions pertaining to your issue with the rental damages and contract and negligence theories. I hope this resolves quickly and only requires a demand letter versus litigation. Thank you!

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