Hernandez v. Saybrook Buick GMC, Inc., No. 3:20-cv-00438 (VAB)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Writing for the CourtVictor A. Bolden, United States District Judge
Citation505 F.Supp.3d 93
Parties Rayteisha HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff, v. SAYBROOK BUICK GMC, INC., Defendant.
Docket NumberNo. 3:20-cv-00438 (VAB)
Decision Date04 December 2020

505 F.Supp.3d 93

Rayteisha HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
SAYBROOK BUICK GMC, INC., Defendant.

No. 3:20-cv-00438 (VAB)

United States District Court, D. Connecticut.

Signed December 4, 2020


505 F.Supp.3d 99

Brendan Lorenz Mahoney, Daniel S. Blinn, Consumer Law Group, Rocky Hill, CT, for Plaintiff.

RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

Victor A. Bolden, United States District Judge

Rayteisha Hernandez ("Plaintiff") has filed a Complaint against Saybrook Buick GMC, Inc. ("Defendant" or "Saybrook Buick"), alleging violations of the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1679 et seq. , the Credit Repair Organization Act ("CROA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1679 et seq. , the Connecticut Retail Installment Sales Financing Act ("RISFA"), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 36a-770 et seq. , and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act ("CUTPA"), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-11a et seq. , as well as for misrepresentation or fraud under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42a-2-721 and for civil forgery under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-565. Compl., ECF No. 1 (Apr. 1, 2020).

Ms. Hernandez now moves for default judgment. Mot. for Default J., ECF No. 9 (Aug. 19, 2020) ("Mot."); Mem. of L. in Support of Pl.’s Mot. for J., ECF No. 9-1 (Aug. 19, 2020) ("Mem."); Aff. of Rayteisha Hernandez, ECF No. 9-2 (Aug. 18, 2020) ("Hernandez Aff.").

For the following reasons, the motion for default judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

The Court finds liability under TILA, RISFA, and CUTPA, as well as for civil forgery, and awards actual damages in the amount of $656.99, double damages under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-565 in the amount of $656.99, statutory damages under TILA in the amount of $2,000.00, and punitive damages in the amount of $656.99. In sum, Ms. Hernandez is awarded $3,970.97 against Saybrook Buick. The Court further orders relief in the form of rescission of the Contract.

505 F.Supp.3d 100

Ms. Hernandez also is entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs in an amount to be later determined.

Given the liability already determined and the relief awarded, the Court denies as moot the issue of liability under the Credit Repair Organization Act.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. Factual Background1

"On or about October 24, 2019, [Ms. Hernandez] purchased a new 2019 Buick Encore [(the "Vehicle")] from Saybrook Buick for a total cash price delivered of $34,880.25." Compl. ¶ 7.

Saybrook Buick "told [Ms. Hernandez] that it was the only vehicle she could be approved to purchase." Id. ¶ 8. However, Saybrook Buick "had other vehicles that were priced lower than the Vehicle for which Plaintiff could also have been approved to purchase, and it limited [Ms. Hernandez] to this Vehicle because it believed that it would be more profitable for it to sell [Ms. Hernandez] the Vehicle than other available options." Id. ¶ 9.

Saybrook Buick "prepared a Retail Installment Contract ... for the sale that listed Santander as the assignee." Id. ¶ 10; see Retail Installment Contract Simple Fin. Charge, ECF No. 9-3 (Aug. 19, 2020) ("Contract"). In obtaining approval from Santander, Saybrook Buick "submitt[ed] fraudulent information regarding [Ms. Hernandez]’s creditworthiness," id. ¶ 11, and "fraudulently listed a cash down payment of $4,000, even though [Ms. Hernandez] did not pay any money down for the Vehicle," id. ¶ 12. The inclusion of the false down payment caused an "improper[ ] inflat[ion]" of the cash price that resulted "in an increased sales tax of $254" to Ms. Hernandez. Id. ¶ 14.

The Contract also mentioned "a 2002 BMW 318 that [Ms. Hernandez] had traded[ ]in for an allowance of $500," but Ms. Hernandez "did not own such a vehicle and did not trade in any vehicle towards the purchase." Id. ¶ 15. The Contract included a " ‘trade-in’ fee of $100," which "would not have been incurred if Saybrook Buick had not listed [the] false trade-in." Id. ¶ 17.

The Contract also included "a charge of $3,350 for a service contract that [Ms. Hernandez] neither requested nor desired." Id. ¶ 18.

The terms of the Contract were "a total amount financed of $30,880.25[ ] and provided for 72 monthly payments of $656.99." Id. ¶ 19. Ms. Hernandez told Saybrook Buick "that she could not afford the monthly payment," and Saybrook Buick responded "that the payment included insurance coverage for six months." Id. ¶ 20. Saybrook Buick, however, "had separately arranged the purchase of the insurance for only seven days of coverage, with an expiration date of October 31, 2019." Id. ¶ 21. Saybrook Buick also had "altered the insurance card to list an expiration date of March 31[,] 2020." Id. ¶ 22.

Ms. Hernandez agreed to purchase the Vehicle "[b]ased on Saybrook Buick's representations that the monthly payment included insurance." Id. ¶ 23.

505 F.Supp.3d 101

In December 2019, Ms. Hernandez "learned about the lapsed insurance and fake insurance card when she attempted to make a claim against the policy." Id. ¶ 24. "The insurance carrier told [her] the insurance coverage had expired and it provided her with a copy of the insurance card showing an expiration date of October 31, 2019." Id. ¶ 25.

On February 3, 2020, Ms. Hernandez "returned the Vehicle to Saybrook Buick ... and made demand for a return of the payments that she made under the Contract. Id. ¶ 26.

B. Procedural History

On April 1, 2020, Ms. Hernandez filed a Complaint against Saybrook Buick, alleging violations of the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1679 et seq. , the Credit Repair Organization Act ("CROA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1679 et seq. , the Connecticut Retail Installment Sales Financing Act ("RISFA"), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 36a-770 et seq. , and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act ("CUTPA"), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-11a et seq. , as well as for misrepresentation or fraud under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42a-2-721 and for civil forgery under Conn Gen. Stat. § 52-565. Compl.

On June 5, 2020, Ms. Hernandez moved for default entry under Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Mot. for Default Entry, ECF No. 8 (June 5, 2020).

On August 19, 2020, Ms. Hernandez moved for default judgment against Saybrook Buick. Mot.

On October 21, 2020, the Court granted Ms. Hernandez's motion for default entry against Saybrook Buick. Order, ECF No. 10 (Oct. 21, 2020).

On November 24, 2020, the Court held a hearing on the motion for default judgment. Min. Entry, ECF No. 13 (Nov. 24, 2020). Saybrook Buick did not appear at the hearing.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

" Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides a two-step process for obtaining a default judgment." Priestley v. Headminder, Inc. , 647 F.3d 497, 504 (2d Cir. 2011). Plaintiffs must first obtain an entry of default under Rule 55(a) by showing that the defaulting party "has failed to plead or otherwise defend." Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a). When a party is in default, the Court "deems all the well-pleaded allegations in the pleadings to be admitted," except for damages. Transatlantic Marine , 109 F.3d at 108 (citing Greyhound Exhibitgroup, Inc. , 973 F.2d at 158 ("While a party's default is deemed to constitute a concession of all well[-]pleaded allegations of liability, it is not considered an admission of damages.")); see also City of N.Y. v. Mickalis Pawn Shop, LLC , 645 F.3d 114, 137 (2d Cir. 2011) ("It is an ancient common law axiom that a defendant who defaults thereby admits all well-pleaded factual allegations contained in the complaint." (internal quotation marks omitted)).

Second, a plaintiff must seek a default judgment under Rule 55(b). " Rule 55(b)(1) allows the clerk to enter a default judgment if the plaintiff's claim is for a sum certain and the defendant has failed to appear and is not [a minor] or incompetent person." New York v. Green , 420 F.3d 99, 104 (2d Cir. 2005) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(1) ). A sum certain amount is "a sum that can be made certain by computation." Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(1). "In all other cases, Rule 55(b)(2) governs, and it requires a party seeking a judgment by default to apply to the court for entry of a default judgment." Green , 420 F.3d at 104 (internal quotation marks omitted). And while the Second Circuit has expressed a "strong preference for resolving disputes on the merits," id. (internal quotation

505 F.Supp.3d 102

marks omitted), "[t]he decision whether to grant or deny a motion for default judgment lies with the trial court." Berbick v. City of N.Y.: 28th Precinct , No. 11-cv-5295 (PAC) (JCF), 2013 WL 1120313, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2013) (citing Enron Oil Corp. v. Diakuhara , 10 F.3d 90, 95 (2d Cir. 1993) ).

Under Rule 55(b)(2), a court is responsible for ensuring that the facts alleged, while accepted as true, provide "a proper basis for liability and relief." Rolls-Royce PLC v. Rolls-Royce USA, Inc. , 688 F. Supp. 2d 150, 153 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) (citing Au Bon Pain Corp. v. Artect, Inc. , 653 F.2d 61, 65 (2d Cir. 1981) (holding that courts have discretion under Rule 55(b)(2) "to require proof of necessary facts," but do not need to agree that those facts...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 practice notes
  • Stevenson v. Riverside Motorcars, LLC, 3:21-CV-00320 (KAD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • November 1, 2021
    ...Auto., Inc., No. 3:19-CV-01793 (MPS), 2020 WL 6607789, at *3 (D. Conn. Nov. 12, 2020); see also Hernandez v. Saybrook Buick GMC, Inc., 505 F.Supp.3d 93, 112 (D. Conn. 2020) (recognizing that, under Conn. Agency Reg. § 42-110b-28(b)(23), it is a per se CUTPA violation for a car dealership to......
1 cases
  • Stevenson v. Riverside Motorcars, LLC, 3:21-CV-00320 (KAD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • November 1, 2021
    ...Auto., Inc., No. 3:19-CV-01793 (MPS), 2020 WL 6607789, at *3 (D. Conn. Nov. 12, 2020); see also Hernandez v. Saybrook Buick GMC, Inc., 505 F.Supp.3d 93, 112 (D. Conn. 2020) (recognizing that, under Conn. Agency Reg. § 42-110b-28(b)(23), it is a per se CUTPA violation for a car dealership to......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT