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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 118292
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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Was wondering if i had a small claims case? I live in CA,

Customer Question

Was wondering if i had a small claims case? I live in CA, and here, when you buy a used car, the seller is responsible for the smog certificate and repairs needed to pass. I recently bought a used car from a private party. At the time of the sales transaction, the seller had the pink slip, ownership title from the DMV, and signed it in front of me, and dated it. He said he was the person listed on the certificate of title. Later, when i took the car to get smogged, it failed, and cost $800 in repairs to pass. When i went to the BBB mitigation services, they contacted the seller on the title i had, via the address listed on the car title the seller signed over to me. The seller told the mitigation services he had sold the car a month prior to me buying it, and provided a bill of sale to the mitigation services. The bill of sale looked generic that anyone could fill out, true or not. I then got a DMV registration record on the car, which did not show any evidence of a previous sale, or transfer of ownership. The only ownership change showing on the record was when i purchased it a month later. If the seller i had bought it from was not the owner on the title, why was the title not already signed and dated a month earlier, when the title owner said he sold it? Why would a person use a bill of sale and leave the title unsigned, and did not send in a release of liability? I believe the person i bought it from filled out a bogus bill of sale after the mitigation services contacted him. Do I have a case (price of repairs to get smogged) against the person on the certificate of title whom i thought i was buying it from, since it was signed and dated in front of me, and there is no evidence it was sold a month earlier via the dmv records.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
In CA sale of a car is as is, meaning the risk of defect is on the buyer. The exception is that the seller is liable for the SMOG testing. If the car will not pass the SMOG test, then the seller is in breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, meaning they sold you a car you cannot use and they did not provide the proper SMOG inspection. So you have a case to sue the person who sold you the car for any repairs and the smog test cost or to seek to cancel the sale if you want to do so. If the costs are less than $10,000, then you can sue in small claims.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Will the bill of sale dated a month prior to my transaction negate my case? The person on the title said he sold it a month earlier to someone else via bill of sale. The title owner i thought i was buying it from was not the seller, according to person on the title. The person on the title said he sold it via bill of sale but didnt sign the title paper (pink slip)...
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
The bill being improperly dated could be evidence that the sale was fraudulent. Also, if the seller is not the person on the title and has never been on the title, that too can void the sale because they did not have rights to sell the car.