Car purchaser's judgment reversed; false misrepresentations will be issue at trial
Katherine Melton was forced to sue "George's Used Car Sales" after the car she bought was discovered to have been wrecked previously, leaking oil and generally a mess. Melton claimed that she did not have the "as is" vehicle inspected because the salesman told her it had never been in a wreck and referred her to the mechanic who ostensibly could verify the car's satisfactory condition. Melton visited with the mechanic, was told that he changed the alternator, but that otherwise the car was fine. She bought it, found that two axles had been fractured in a previous accident that also twisted fuel lines, that it leaked oil, as well, and that it was "unsafe to drive." The seller refused to rescind the purchase, however, pointing to the "as is" clause in the sale papers.
The trial judge granted Melton summary disposition after the salesman conceded that he may have told Melton that he "was unaware" of the car previously having been in a collision. The dealership appealed, arguing that it was not responsible for the independent mechanic's false representations, and that the "as is" clause trumped any claims of false representation by the salesman. The Court of Appeals reversed the woman's judgment and returned the case to the trial court. It ruled that the salesman's concession left open a question of fact with regard to whether a false misrepresentation was made. It held that the case was a "classic factual dispute requiring a fact-finder's assessment of credibility." The Court also instructed the lower court to analyze whether the case should be assigned to a judge in a different court.