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You! be the Judge
The Story

Evelyn was so excited that she could barely pull out her cell.
“Mikey! I saw it. The car of my dreams. It’s turning around and around on a pedestal outside this used car dealership. How much? How should I know? I haven’t gone in yet. What colour? That’s something you shouldn’t have to ask. I wouldn’t be so excited if it wasn’t the colour I’ve dreamed of for a whole year. Canary Yellow! Ooooh, I love it so much. The address? 5456 Woodlands. And, hurry!!!”
Mike put down the phone and turned to his friend at the office. “Women,” he scoffed, “they buy cars by colour. They don’t even care how it runs. Thank goodness they have men to guide them through these things!”
Everything seemed right with the car. Mike put it through its paces. It was a hot number, with only 35,000 miles.
They signed the contract. As Evelyn drove it out of the lot, she blew Mike a kiss.
That was the only drive that was trouble free.
The next day, Mike received a frantic call at work. “Mikey. It won’t start. What do I do? Oh, stop being horrid. I turned the ignition. You’ll come, right? I love you. Where? Oh yes, Dartson and Woodbury.”
Every week, there was a new problem.
Then one night, over diner, Evelyn asked an innocent question. “Mikey, are odometers supposed to go backwards?”
“What do you mean, dear?” asked Mike, spearing a potato with his fork.
“Well, remember how when we bought the car the odometer showed 35,000 miles? Now it’s showing 30,000 miles.”
Mike banged on the table. “I knew it. They cheated us! First thing tomorrow I’ll take the car to the shop and get this checked out.”
The mechanic confirmed Mike’s suspicions. The odometer had been tampered with. The car had 80,000 miles when they bought it, not 35,000.
When the car stalled on the way home from the mechanics, Mike decided he’d had enough.

In the Courtroom

“He sold us a lemon,” Mike exclaimed. “The salesman lied about the mileage and that’s fraud. Make him give us our money back.”

The salesman flashed a big smile. “We didn’t know about the odometer, but you know what? I’m a fair guy. How about we just rip up the contract of sale, I’ll return the money, they’ll return the car, and we’ll forget about the whole thing?”

Should the Mike and Evelyn get their money back? You! Be The Judge. Then look below for the decision.

The Decision

“The salesman committed fraud!” cried the judge. “He either knew or should have known the actual mileage. Not only is he going to give Mike and Evelyn their money back, but they get to keep the car – even though it’s virtually worthless.”

Today’s column is based on a case from Illinois. The characters and the scenarios are fictional. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. The information in this column does not constitute legal advice. If you have a similar problem, consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction. Elissa Bernstein is a lawyer and syndicated columnist. Copyright 2016 Haika Enterprises, all rights reserved. BC25-8
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