The Connecticut Appellate Court has dismissed an appeal filed by an auto dealer, A Better Way Wholesale Autos. In its appeal, the dealership was attempting to throw out an arbitrator's decision that the 2004 Mercedes E 500 that it had sold to a Connecticut consumer was not safe to drive.
The consumer had purchased the Mercedes from A Better Way in 2015. After learning that it was not safe to drive, she retained Attorney Daniel Blinn of Consumer Law Group, who filed a lawsuit in the Connecticut Superior Court in New Haven. A Better Way forced the consumer to have her claims decided by an arbitrator, and a hearing was held over several days.
The Arbitrator, in a written decision, credited the testimony of two witnesses that the Mercedes had a damaged subframe and that it was not safe to drive. The Arbitrator awarded the consumer $5,546.15 for the cost of repairs and inspections. The Arbitrator also found that A Better Way made false statements regarding the Mercedes' condtiion and ordered it to pay punitive damages of $7,500 and the consumer's attorney's fees.
A Better Way asked the Connecticut Superior Court to throw out the Arbitrator's decision, but the court disagreed , finding that "the arbitrator's conclusions were fully supported by his findings of facts and the prevailing law". The court also rejected the dealership's challenge to the award of attorney's fees, noting that it was important to award fees so that consumers can obtain relief in cases involving "egregious retailer misconduct" such as that committed by A Better Way.
A Better Way still refused to pay the award, and the consumer asked the Court for an order to seize the dealership's assets. The dealership appealed to the Connecticut Appellate Court, but its appeal was filed after the relevant deadline. The Appellate Court dismissed the appeal.
This recent decision is one of four recent rulings by appellate courts against A Better Way in cases brought by Consumer Law Group. In another recent decision, the Appellate Court agreed with a trial judge that the dealership had engaged in auto dealer fraud. In another decision entered earlier this year, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a federal judge that A Better Way violated the Truth in Lending Act in a sale of a vehicle to a consumer. Finally, in a decision entered last month, the same federal appellate court rejected A Better Way's appeal of a United State District Court's judgment approving an arbitrator's decision that it violated state and federal law by requiring a consumer to purchase unwanted extras and by repossessing her car and not permitting her to be reinstated.