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Dallas associate Benjamin Hunt successfully defended his car dealership client in an arbitration of a negligence claim. The claim related to a car purchase and the subsequent full loss totaling more than $20,000. After compelling the case from state court to arbitration, Hunt obtained a full defense award.

Claimant purchased a vehicle from a car dealership, where she alleged they told her that it would only release the vehicle to her once it received proof of full coverage insurance on the vehicle. She alleged she called her insurance company and requested that her existing insurance policy be transferred to the new vehicle and that proof of insurance be faxed to our client as confirmation. The car dealership received a fax from the insurance company showing only proof of her current insurance policy for her prior vehicle, not for the new vehicle she was purchasing.

Two months later, she was in an accident and the new vehicle was totaled. Because the new vehicle was not covered under her insurance policy, the insurance company did not provide coverage and she was forced to bear the entirety of the loss. The car dealership maintains that it requests proof of insurance on a newly purchased vehicle before releasing it to a customer, but does not require it as a condition of release.

Claimant alleged that the car dealership was negligent in undertaking confirmation of insurance, negligently misrepresenting to her that new vehicle was covered by insurance, committed fraud by either disclosing false information or not disclosing material facts, and breached its contract with her and/or breached a verbal promise to her (promissory estoppel).

The arbiter found that the claimant failed to articulate and establish a duty allegedly owed to her and a breach by the car dealership. They also found that the claimant’s fraud claims failed to prove that any material false or misleading representations were made or that material information was hidden or not disclosed by the car dealership or its employees. Finally, the arbiter found that the existence and enforceability of the Parties’ Sales Contract and the fact that any alleged promises made by the car dealership’s employees were outside the confines of the sales contract made the claim of promissory estoppel invalid.

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Benjamin Hunt

Benjamin Hunt