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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I was just sold a car by a dealer in CT, who reset the car's

Customer Question

I was just sold a car by a dealer in CT, who reset the car's computer to make it appear the car's warning lights were not triggered, for fear it would turn me off from the purchase. (check engine lights, brake failure lights etc. have a reset button that will temporarily turn off the cars warning lights while the car's computer runs a fresh diagnostic, thereby, temporarily hiding known problems with the car)
After purchasing the vehicle, I drove only 10 miles away from the dealer at highway speeds to find out that the entire brake system was faulty, as the lights signaling break failure were triggered. To fix it would cost $2700. More importantly, by hiding the fact that the car had bad breaks, they could have killed me (says my mechanic and owner's manual).
It turns out the light that would have shown up, had they not used a trick to hide it, would have notified me that the brake system was faulty and the car was not safe to drive.
The dealer also, used false advertising to bait and switch me to make a 7 hour round trip drive to their dealership, only to show me the car they advertised was not the car they had for me.
The car was sold to me for just under $10k, but as far as I know, does not qualify for lemon law protection in CT because it was manufactured in 2006.
I live in NY where the car is now. Can I file in NY or does it have to be CT? Federal Court or State Court? Are there any time sensitive procedural matters I should know about?
Based on these facts, and any questions you might have, would you say this is a case worth pursuing? What theories would you suggest pursuing? Any relevant statutes I should know about before calling them to negotiate?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer, I am sorry to learn of this situation.

Your primary claim here is a very specific type of fraud called "fraud in the inducement" where the defendant lied about a material fact in order to induce the plaintiff to enter into a transaction to their detriment. If successful, a fraud in the inducement claim will allow you to void the contract or enforce the contract at your option (as the injured party).

In addition you can also sue for breach of contract, fraud, and violations of the CT Business and Professions Code.

Connecticut is the proper venue. You would sue in state court, not Federal.

You can try suing in small claims court (http://www.jud.ct.gov/faq/smallclaims.html) if you calculate your damages as either the difference in value between what the car would be worth had it been in the condition represented and the condition it actually is, OR, the cost of repair. (CT Small Claims has a jurisdictional limit of $5,000.00, if the "amount in controversy is less than this you can take advantage of the relaxed procedural guidelines and evidentiary rules - keep in mind, the rule is "amount in controversy" not the total sales amount).

Short of filing a lawsuit, you can try to mediate the dispute with them - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation.

You can also (should also) report the dealership to the CT Attorney General (the AG does not prosecute individual claims - so they will not get your money back for you or reverse the sale for you, but they do prosecute fraudulent businesses for administrative and criminal violations): http://www.ct.gov/ag/cwp/browse.asp?a=2066

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