Aaron v. Hampton Motors, Inc., 17884

Citation240 S.C. 26,124 S.E.2d 585
Decision Date13 March 1962
Docket NumberNo. 17884,17884
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
PartiesWinston AARON, Respondent, v. HAMPTON MOTORS, INC., Appellant.

Page 585

124 S.E.2d 585
240 S.C. 26
Winston AARON, Respondent,
No. 17884.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
March 13, 1962.

Page 586

[240 S.C. 27] James D. Walters, Columbia, for appellant.

[240 S.C. 29] Melton Kligman, Columbia, for respondent.

LEGGE, Justice.

Action by vendee against vendor of a used automobile seeking recovery of actual and punitive damages for fraud and deceit based upon alleged misrepresentation as to its condition and mileage. The trial judge granted a nonsuit as to punitive damages and submitted the issues of liability and actual damages to the jury, which returned a verdict for two thousand three hundred fifty ($2,350.00) dollars. Defendant[240 S.C. 30] alone appeals, charging error in the refusal of its motiosn for nonsuit, direction of verdict, and new trial.

On September 12, 1959, under a written agreement of that date executed by both parties, respondent purchased from appellant a 1958 Plymouth, appellant taking as the down payment respondent's 1951 Mercury at an agreed valuation of $300.00 (less a balance of $102.00 due on it to a finance company, which respondent agreed to pay to that company on October 1, 1959), the balance, $2302.20, to be paid by respondent in thirty consecutive monthly instalments of $76.74 each, commencing November 1, 1959.

The agreement contained, in large print, the following:

'It is further understood and agreed that the seller does not guarantee used or second-hand automobiles, and makes no representation or guasrantee as to correctness of speedometer mileage shown on car, and does not obligate itself

Page 587

to do any free work or service on such cars unless specified in writing here below.'

It also contained, under the printed caption 'Special Agreement', the following, written in pencil as were all other provisions of the agreement not printed:

'Subject to credit approval 9-14-59 50/50 warranty 30 days or 1000 miles mileage 16,246'

Respondent testified that he had bought the 1951 Mercury from appellant, through its salesman Mr. Eleazer; that it had given good service; and that when he and his wife decided in September, 1959, to get a better car they went to appellant's used car lot and sought out Mr. Eleazer, who showed them first a 1957 Plymouth, then a 1958 Ford, and finally the 1958 Plymouth that he bought. He testified that Mr. Eleazer told him that in his opinion the 1958 Plymouth would be a better buy than the 1957 one if they could make a deal on the Mercury as a down payment, because although the 1958 Plymouth would cost about $200.00 more it had a heater and radio that the 1957 car did not have, and that it 'was awfully clean and had only about 16,000 miles [240 S.C. 31] on it.' He testified that after a trial drive in the 1958 Plymouth he and his wife came back to the lot, where they examined the tires and the interior of the car, lifted the hood and looked at the engine, finding everything, including the engine, very clean; and that Mr. Eleazer said, in response to his inquiry, that his company had not 'gone into the engine.'

Respondent having agreed to buy the 1958 Plymouth and having agreed with Mr. Eleazer as to the value of the 1951 Mercury to be traded in, Mr. Eleazer prepared the written contract before mentioned, and it was then executed by him on behalf of the appellant, and by the respondent. The latter testified that he made the purchase in reliance upon Mr. Eleazer's unqualified representation that the car's actual mileage was approximately 16,000. Mr. Eleazer, on the other hand, testified for the appellant that in his transaction with respondent no mention was made of mileage, and that the words 'mileage 16,246' had been written into the contract simply to afford a basis for the calculation of the 1,000-mile warranty under the 'Special Agreement' before mentioned.

There is no controversy as to the meaning of the express '50/50 warranty 30 days or 1,000 miles' in the 'Special Agreement'.

Respondent testified that the 1958 Plymouth gave him no trouble until the early part of January, 1960, by which time he had driven it about 3,000 miles. Then it 'started knocking', 'threw' a connecting rod, and broke down. Understanding that the warranty period had expired, he asked appellant's service manager if the company would make the necessary repairs and, meanwhile, lend him a car; but he was informed that this could not be done. Being a long-haul truck driver and living some two miles from the place where he had to report for duty whenever called, and being thus in need of a car during the time that the Plymouth would be laid up for repairs, he then went to Snelgrove's Garage, in [240 S.C. 32] West Columbia, where he was advised that they would repair his car and let him have another, without charge, while the job was being done. Accordingly, he left his car with them, taking theirs for use during the course of the repair job.

Snelgrove's shortly thereafter informed respondent that the engine was worn out and required new connecting rods and a new crank shaft. Respondent then, through the records of the State Highway Department, located its former owner, a Mr. Lee, of Columbia, whose business was that of a traveling salesman. Mr. Lee informed respondent and testified at the trial: that he had bought this car from Oliver Motors; that it had given him trouble and had 'thrown a rod'; and that he had had it repaired by Oliver Motors, whose repair man told him that they would not guarantee the job; and that he, in August, 1959, had 'traded it' two weeks later to Hampton Motors, appellant here. Mr. Lee testified

Page 588

that when he traded this car to Hampton Motors the speedometer showed mileage in excess of 55,000.

Mr. Shealy, service manager of Oliver Motors, testified that the 1958 Plymouth, then owned by Mr. Lee, had been repaired by his department on August 11, 1959, at which time the speedometer showed mileage of 54,957, and again on August 18, 1959, the mileage shown on the speedometer being then 55,320. He testified that the repair work sheets showed these repairs to have consisted of installing a drive shaft, replacing all connecting rods, and replacing main bearing; that this work required removal of the cylinder head and replacement of old gaskets with new ones; and that after completion of such a job it would be apparent to a mechanic or an experienced automobile dealer that work had been done inside of the motor.

Snelgrove's bill for repairing respondent's car was about $263.00. Respondent was unable to pay it, and was in default in payments under his purchase agreement. The finance company that held his obligation to appellant accordingly [240 S.C. 33] repossessed the car and paid Snelgrove $200.00 in compromise settlement of the repair bill.

Respondent testified that in October, 1959, he paid to the finance company the balance of $102.00 owing on the 1951 Mercury. He testified that on the purchase price of the 1958 Plymouth he made two monthly payments of $76.74 each, plus 'two or three' late charges of $4.00, and a further payment,...

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    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
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    ...as to show that the jury was motivated by passion, partiality, or prejudice, and that this requires a new trial. Aaron v. Hampton Mtrs., Inc., 240 S.C. 26, 124 S.E.2d 585 (1962); Mork v. Atlantic Coastline Ry. Co., 227 S.C. 245, 87 S.E.2d 830 (1955); Vernon v. Atlantic Coastline Ry. Co., 22......
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    ...apply to evidence as to expressions of the parties outside of the instrument when addressed to an issue of fraud. Aaron v. Hampton Motors, Inc., 240 S.C. 26, 124 S.E.2d 585; 9 Wigmore, Evidence, Sec. Under all of the circumstances, we see no abuse of discretion or other error on the part of......
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