Sale Of Vehicle – Consumer Protection Act

Injuries alleged: Monetary

Name of case: Dennis v. Show Down – 100 Proof Power boats,

Court/case no.: 41-B District Court, #95-5013-CT

Name of judge: William H. Cannon

Jury demand: Yes

Damages awarded: Verdict of $4,920; judgment entered for $22,275.62

Date: Aug.28, 1996

Attorney for the plaintiff: Steve Lehto

Attorney for the defendant: Withheld

Name/city of most helpful experts: Francis X. O’Brien Jr. (Ferndale), expert master mechanic; James “Grumpy” Barocio (Hazel Park), expert engine builder

Highest offer: 0

Other useful information:

The plaintiff bought a used 1987 suburban from the defendant. A week later, the engine failed. Her mechanics (O’Brien and Barocio) told her, and testified, that the engine appeared to have been doctored to mask a severe engine defect. The plaintiff sued the defendant for I the cost of repairs, the engine and the towing bill.

At trial, testimony differed on whether the plaintiff test drove the vehicle once or twice. Plaintiff’s counsel argued to the jury that the defendant and its employees invented and orchestrated the story regarding the second inspection. In rebuttal, the plaintiff produced time I sheets proving she could not have taken the second test drive and plaintiff’s counsel referred to defendants employees as liars in closing. The jury returned a verdict of $4,920. The defendant had rejected a mediation of $5,000, which the plaintiff had accepted. The judge awarded $11,250.62 in statutory fees under the Consumer Protection Act, MCL 445.911, and $6,080 in mediation sanctions. The defendant is asking for jnov or a new trial.

Sears Sued Over Lack Of Building Permits

Stanley Kurtzman in July paid Sears, Roebuck & Co. $475.99 to install a hot water heater in his Waterford home, including $30 for a building permit.

Workers installed the hot water heater, but no building permit was ever issued, he claims in a class action lawsuit filed this week in Oakland Circuit Court.

Bloomfield Hills attorney Steve Lehto is representing Kurtzman and 10 others who also paid Sears for a building permit that was never issued. He’s looking for more to be part of a class-action lawsuit against the retailer.

“Technically, most cities require a building permit to install a hot water heater, but most don’t enforce it,” Lehto said. “Either Sears or whoever Sears hires to do the work hasn’t been taking out the permits.”

That creates a dangerous situation, Said Esther Shapiro, Detroit’s Consumer Affairs director. “An improperly placed water heater can blow up,” she said.

Building permits protect consumers by making the contractor responsible for redoing improper work at their expense, Shapiro said.

Home owners can learn whether a permit was taken out for work at their home by phoning their city’s building inspector, Lehto said. Sears has not responded to the suit

and could not be reached for comment. The suit seeks an injunction against Sears to stop charging the $30 for building permits that are never issued. Victims could receive up to $250 compensation under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, Lehto said.

Lehto wants to hear from consumers who purchased a hot water heater from Sears in the last six years and paid for a building permit. Lehto can be reached at 1-810-334-2266 or fax 1810-338-8188, or write Steve Lehto, Attorney At Law, 1263 W. Square Lake Rd., Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48302. © Detroit Free Press, October 21, 1994.