Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hibschman Pontiac, Inc. v. Batchelor case brief

Hibschman Pontiac, Inc. v. Batchelor case brief summary
362 N.E.2d 845 (1977)

CASE SYNOPSIS
In this case, a purchaser of a used car sought review of an order from the Court of Appeals in Indiana, which reversed a jury award of punitive damages to the purchaser for breach of contract as well as oppressive conduct against a car dealer and a car company.

CASE FACTS
Here the purchaser bought a used car from the car dealership.
The car had a warranty and it required extensive repair work. 
This problem had never been rectified. After the warranty expired the purchaser was forced to pay for additional repairs to the car.
The purchaser sued the car dealership as well as the car company for breach of contract and oppressive conduct.
A judgment was entered for the purchaser against the car dealership & the car company.
The appellate court reversed the award of punitive damages and the purchaser then sought review.

DISCUSSION
  • The court here reversed, holding that the purchaser was entitled to punitive damages because the acts of the car dealership and the car company constituted not only breach of contract, but also fraud, malice, gross negligence and/or oppression. 
  • The court ruled, however, that the amount of the punitive damage award was excessive at first blush because it appeared to be both outrageous and excessive. 
  • The court therefore remanded the matter for remittitur (or a new trial).

CONCLUSION
The court reversed, disallowing an award of punitive damages as the actions of the car dealership and the car company constituted a breach of contract and were fraudulent, malicious, grossly negligent, or oppressive.
The court also remanded the matter for remittitur of the punitive damage award or for a new trial because the punitive damages award was excessive and/or outrageous.


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