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Bloetjes v. Ulbrich

A-6006-97T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)

UCC; RECISSION—If a vehicle’s mileage is understated by its odometer and in an advertisement, a buyer who relies on the low mileage and proves that the non-conformity substantially impairs the value of the vehicle to him is entitled to recission.

A car buyer contacted a seller after seeing a classified advertisement that read: “DODGE CARAVAN ‛95, V6, 45K mi., power everything, mint cond., 7 pass., $6,500 b/o. Spring Lake 449-5571.” The buyer met with the seller and drove the van. The buyer and seller agreed that the buyer was offered the opportunity to have a mechanic inspect the van, but did not agree as to whether the sale was contingent on the mechanic’s approval. The seller would not “hold” the vehicle for the buyer if someone else offered him his price. Therefore, the buyer gave his check to the seller and took the van. That night, the buyer took the van to his mechanic’s shop, but the mechanic did not examine the vehicle until a few days later. When the vehicle was examined, the mechanic became convinced that the vehicle had substantially more mileage than had been advertised. At trial, the lower court held that to be the case. Based on that information, and despite the fact that the buyer had registered the car, the buyer sought rescission and/or revocation of acceptance under the Uniform Commercial Code. The Court rejected the contention by the buyer that the transaction was a conditional sale and that the condition was his mechanic’s approval. Even if that were the case, the Court was satisfied that the buyer waived that condition by registering title to the vehicle before receiving the results of the inspection. Nevertheless, the buyer prevailed based upon UCC section 2-608(1). According to the Court, where the mileage was advertised as being 45,000, and it was represented by the odometer as 47,176, a warranty was created that the mileage at least does not exceed the higher figure. Under the UCC, a buyer may revoke his acceptance of the lot or commercial unit whose non-conformity substantially impairs its value to him if he has accepted it (a) on the reasonable assumption that its non-conformity would be cured and it has not been seasonably cured; or (b) without discovery of such non-conformity if his acceptance was reasonably induced either by the difficulty of discovery before acceptance or by the seller’s assurances. Here, the Court was convinced that the value of the vehicle was substantially impaired and that if the buyer could prove that his acceptance “was reasonably induced either by the difficulty of discovery before acceptance or by the seller’s assurances,” then the buyer would be entitled to a recission. In this case, the seller’s advertisement and the vehicle odometer, combined with other misrepresentations by the seller sufficiently established the seller’s “assurances” and supported the buyer’s reasonable reliance thereon. Therefore, there was no doubt to the Court that the buyer proved a non-conformity that “substantially impair[ed] the value of the [vehicle] to him.” The Court affirmed the lower court’s grant of the rescission remedy.


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