Loss Of Use For Automobile

Tarrant County insurance attorneys will find the following case useful on many claims they encounter. The case is a 1984 Texas Supreme Court case styled, Luna v. North Star Dodge Sales, Inc. Here is some of the relevant information.
In March 1980 Luna sought to purchase a 1980 Dodge Omni from North Star. A 30-day/1,000 mile “money back guarantee” was offered to new car purchasers. If a purchaser was not satisfied with the car, then the purchase price would be refunded if the car was returned prior to the expiration of 30 days from the purchase date or before the 1000-mile limitation occurred. Luna took delivery of the car and while driving it home noticed a constant vibration and rattling with the steering wheel.
Two days later Luna took the car back to North Star and asked salesman Lewis to refund her purchase money. North Star never told Luna they would not refund the purchase money, nor did North Star ever say they would. Luna claimed North Star told her the refund decision was up to someone who was not available at that time. North Star offered to fix the car. Luna claimed it was never fixed. Luna returned to North Star several times with the car. Luna testified she requested the purchase money back each time she brought the car back. Luna felt she had no choice but to let North Star attempt to repair the car because she was unable to obtain the purchase money refund she requested. Luna thought that if North Star did not fix the car, then she would still get her purchase money back.
Eventually, Luna just left the car at North Star where it remained at the time of the trial. North Star informed Luna that the car had approximately 1500 miles on it and, therefore, was not eligible for a purchase money refund. Luna continued to make monthly payments on the car for 15 months.
Luna sued for violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The jury found that: Luna requested North Star to return the purchase price; North Star failed to refund Luna’s purchase price; such failure was done knowingly; North Star committed an unconscionable action or course of action against Luna; such unconscionable action was committed knowingly; North Star’s failure to refund, or unconscionable actions were the producing cause of Luna’s damages; and Luna was entitled to $3,200 for monies paid by Luna (consisting of cash, trade-in and monthly payments), $8,000 (reduced to $5,200 by remittitur) for loss of use of the car from April 11, 1980 to the present, $5,200 for mental anguish and $46,200 (reduced to $37,800 by remittitur) for additional damages (an amount not over three times any portion of actual damages which exceed $1,000). The court of appeals set aside the awards for mental anguish, loss of use and the corresponding treble damages.
Luna sought to recover the reasonable rental value for her auto for loss of its use from the time the car was left at North Star until the trial date. Luna testified that she thought the reasonable rental value for her car was approximately $100.00 per week. Luna was unable to afford to rent a replacement car. A man in the auto leasing and rental business testified the reasonable rental value for Luna’s car in April 1980 was $108.00 per week.
Since Luna did not prove she had actually incurred some monetary loss by renting an automobile or expending monies for alternative transportation, the court of appeals held that Luna could not collect damages for loss of use.
This court held that in order to prove loss of use of an automobile, Luna need not rent a replacement automobile or show any amounts actually expended for alternative transportation.
If this court were to hold that Luna who has lost the use of his pleasure automobile … cannot be compensated because he has not hired a substitute automobile, the court would be placing upon recovery a condition of financial ability to hire another automobile to take the place of the injured automobile. The law cannot condone such a condition. He would be denied compensation for his inconvenience resulting from the defendant’s wrongful act.
This is a good case to know!