Thompson v. 10,000 RV
This is one of the most significant consumer cases in the country. Ms. Thompson, a senior citizen, purchased a used motorhome for $93,398. What she didn’t know was that the dealer overpaid for her trade-in and added $24,000 to the real sales price of $69,398. After she bought the motorhome, it didn’t work right and the dealer wouldn’t fix her coach. The trial verdict in her case was $363,372.23, which under the warranty law included a two-times penalty, and an additional $75,000 punitive damages, plus a $5,000 senior citizen penalty under the Consumers Legal Remedies Act. This part of the case was soon settled post-trial. The court also issued an injunction making it illegal for the dealer to ever manipulate the trade-in and purchase numbers as was done to Ms. Thompson. This is what truly scared the vehicle industry. Not only did the dealer appeal, it was also joined by the big car industry groups: the California Motion Car Dealer Association and California RV Dealers Association. The published and precedent-setting Appellate Court decision in 2005 was a huge victory not only for California consumers, but for consumers across the country. This is because California, like many states, includes federal law in their statute. As a result of this case, vehicle dealers cannot legally manipulate numbers as was done to Ms. Thompson and others: People have the right to be told what they are really paying and what the real trade-in value was.