If my mom bought a used van “as-is” but it was misrepresented that it had A/C which it did not, what are her rights?

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If my mom bought a used van “as-is” but it was misrepresented that it had A/C which it did not, what are her rights?

Upon investigating why the AC would not work it was found that the AC ccompressor was not on the vehicle and the belt had been changed to accommodate not having a ccompressor. Is there a law against false advertising – the van was sold stating that it had AC but did not. I understand that if it broke they should not fix it, but they sold her a van without a ccompressor and told her that everything worked.

Asked on February 22, 2011 under General Practice, Tennessee

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your mother may be able to sue the used car dealer for fraud.  Fraud is the misrepresentation of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce reliance on which your mother justifiably relied to her detriment.

Since the van did not have air conditioning, but was advertised as having air conditioning, that would constitute fraud as it is misreprensentation of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce reliance.  Your mother justifiably relied to her detriment by purchasing the van which was sold as having air conditioning when in fact it did not.

Your mother's damages (monetary compensation she is seeking in her lawsuit for fraud) would be either her out-of-pocket-loss or the benefit of the bargain.  Benefit of the bargain is the difference between what she paid for the van and what she should have paid for the van without air conditioning. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

False advertising is indeed illegal. At a minimum, knowingly making a material (important) mistatement (or false statement) to induce someone to purchase something or enter into a contract is fraud, and would provide the buyer grounds to either sue for compensation and/or rescind (or cancel) the contract and get his or her money back. In addition, a number of states, including Tennessee, have various consumer protection laws which may furnish additional grounds for legal action and/or allow you to collect additional damages or compensation. Your mother should consult with an attorney about this matter to see what she may be entitled to. Below is a link to a Tennessee government publication which you may find informative; good luck. 

http://www.tn.gov/consumer/documents/CPAandRelatedLaws2007.pdf


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