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Long v. Enterprise Motors, Inc.

2005 WL 2861034 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2005) (Unpublished)

AUTOMOBILES; CONSUMER FRAUD—A dealer selling a car from the lawn of its owner’s home without disclosing that the dealer is the true seller violates the Consumer Fraud Act.

Two owners of a used car dealership advertised a vehicle for sale but did not indicate that the sale was by a dealer. The buyer telephoned the seller and was told that the car was still available and could be inspected at the seller’s home. He was also told that there was a typo in the advertisement and that the vehicle had about fifty percent more miles than was printed in the advertisement. When the buyer went to look at the car, he could not test drive it because it had no license plates. He bought the car anyway. Then, he discovered a transmission problem. Eventually, the buyer filed suit and included claims under the Consumer Fraud Act. The lower court, after hearing divergent testimony, believed the buyer. The sellers argued that they were always ready, willing, and able to repair the transmission, but according to the Court, that argument overlooked the premise of the Consumer Fraud Act and the regulations governing the advertisement and sale of motor vehicles. “It was the defendant’s advertisement that violated [the Consumer Fraud Act] and the regulations from the outset. The advertisement and ‘front yard’ transaction at defendant’s home constituted the ‘unconscionable commercial practice, deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, [and] misrepresentation’ by a used car dealer. ... The advertisement did not list [the dealer] as the seller. The phone number was that of the defendants’ home and the transaction occurred in defendants’ residential ‘front yard’ rather than [at] a commercial establishment.”

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