I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week trying a car fraud case in Jefferson Circuit Court. It was my first trial as a lead attorney and the first case Ben Carter Law has taken to trial.
My client, Renay Seals, alleged that the Defendant, Mak Cars, Inc dba Unique Motorsports (Mak Cars also does business in Louisville as Hot Deals on Wheels Used Cars) sold her a car with more than 245,000 miles on it after assuring her that a) the car only had 54,000 additional miles on it beyond the 21,420 on the odometer and b) the car was eligible for a 24 month/24,000 mile warranty.
The jury found that Mak Cars, Inc violated the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act and ordered the Defendant to pay Renay:
- $13,927.42, the price Renay paid for the 2006 Dodge Charger;
- $5,000 for the anxiety, humiliation, and frustration Mak Cars's deception caused her; and
- $245,000 in punitive damages.
The jury also found that my client was 10% responsible for what happened, which reduces the amount of the judgment for the purchase price and mental suffering by the same proportion.
There are three great things about this verdict. (Okay, there are a lot more than three, but I want to talk about three here.)
First, Renay is from Louisiana. The only experience she had with Louisville, Kentucky was coming here to look at a car she thought had 21,240 miles on it and getting hosed. With its verdict, the jury said, "What happened to you is not acceptable. It's not how we treat people here." Renay and her son left Louisville yesterday knowing that Louisville, Kentucky has good people in it.
Second, I had a chance to talk with some jurors after the case. One of them said, "Do you know why we set punitive damages at $245,000?" We had set the maximum amount we could recover at $250,000, so I told her I just thought they didn't want to give the max.
"No, we set it at $245,000 because that was how many miles the car had on it. We thought that would be an appropriate symbol to deter other dealers from doing something like this."
AWESOME. This shows the jury was thinking even harder than I was about this case. Which I didn't think was possible until it was.
Third, another juror told me that the jury wanted to write on the verdict that Renay had to spend a little bit of the money it ordered Defendant to pay her to return to Louisville and attend Derby next year. This jury was truly appalled that someone from out of town was treated so badly by a Louisville business.
Yesterday was a great day for my client: the jury validated her 18-month fight both out and then in court with a company that had done her wrong. It was a great day for me: it was a scary thing to go to trial on my own for the first time. And, I hope, the jury's verdict will help other Kentucky consumers and their attorneys get fair compensation for wrongs done to them.