Wright v. Craft, No. 4181.

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtAnderson
Citation640 S.E.2d 486
Decision Date27 November 2006
Docket NumberNo. 4181.
PartiesDanny K. WRIGHT, Respondent, v. Ralph C. CRAFT d/b/a Craft Auto Mart, Inc., Appellant.
640 S.E.2d 486
Danny K. WRIGHT, Respondent,
v.
Ralph C. CRAFT d/b/a Craft Auto Mart, Inc., Appellant.
No. 4181.
Court of Appeals of South Carolina.
Heard November 9, 2006.
Decided November 27, 2006.
Rehearing Denied January 29, 2007.

[640 S.E.2d 493]

Timothy G. Quinn, of Columbia, for Appellant.

C. Steven Moskos of Charleston, for Respondent.

ANDERSON, J.:


Danny K. Wright initiated an action against Ralph C. Craft, d/b/a/ Craft Auto Mart, Inc., for revocation of acceptance, breach of contract, negligence, constructive fraud, fraud, violation of the Unfair Trade Practices Act, §§ 39-5-10 to -560 (UTPA), violation of the Regulation of Manufacturers, Distributors, and Dealers Act, §§ 56-15-10 to -600 (Dealers Act), and violation of the Federal Odometer Statute. The trial court granted Craft summary judgment on Wright's causes of action for fraud and violation of the Federal Odometer Statute. Wright withdrew his causes of action for revocation of acceptance, breach of contract and constructive fraud. The jury rendered verdicts as follows:

(1) Negligence—The jury awarded Wright actual damages of $25,578 and punitive damages of $12,789.

(2) UTPA—The jury awarded Wright actual damages of $25,578.

(3) Dealers Act—The jury awarded Wright actual damages of $51,156 and punitive damages of $12,789.

On Wright's motion to treble damages under the UTPA, the trial court required Wright to elect his remedy. Wright chose to proceed under the UTPA. The trial court trebled the UTPA damages and awarded Wright attorney's fees in the amount of $70,650 and costs in the amount of $4656.59. Craft filed a motion for a judgment non

640 S.E.2d 494

obstante veredicto (JNOV) and a motion to strike damages, which were denied by the trial court.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Wright purchased a used 2001 Ford F-150 (Truck) from Craft Auto Mart, Inc. (Craft Auto) in July of 2002. When purchased by its first owner the Truck came with a 36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, which was transferable to subsequent owners. In November of 2001, the Truck was involved in an accident in which it rolled and flipped over. The incident damaged the right quarter panel and the hood of the Truck, broke windows, and caused both air bags to deploy. State Farm Insurance Company bought the Truck from the first owner.

Craft purchased the Truck at a vehicle auction to repair and sell at Craft Auto. The purchase was arranged by an acquaintance, Jim Spoon, whom Craft instructed to buy the Truck if "just the sheet metal was damaged."1

Craft had the Truck repaired at Bestway Body Shop. Replacements for some of the damaged parts were obtained from the Ford Dealership and others came from Keystone Automotive Industries. Lindsay Brothers supplied a used airbag.2 Craft saw the Truck about a week after the repair work had begun. He observed some of the wrecked parts and noted that the original airbags had deployed during the wreck. Craft claimed his observations supported his belief that the Truck only had sheet metal damage.

Craft advertised the Truck for sale as a "one-owner vehicle" and did not reveal that the Truck had been wrecked and repaired. Wright saw the advertisement, contacted Craft Auto, and questioned Zack Rickard, an employee, about the Truck's mileage, warranty, and condition. Rickard informed Wright the Truck had ten thousand miles, came with a warranty, and had nothing wrong with it. Wright specifically asked Rickard if the Truck had any damage and Rickard responded that it did not.

Wright, accompanied by Rickard, test drove the Truck and noticed the check engine and seat belt lights came on. Rickard assured Wright "there would be no problem" because it was covered and would be checked. In addition, Wright observed some exterior damage near the driver's side door of the Truck and was advised "it was done in the parking lot like somebody opened the door and hit it, or it got hit with a grocery cart." Wright said he would buy the Truck if "everything that I see wrong with it when I'm looking at it, he'd have it fixed before I bought it."

In attending to the warning lights, Craft took the Truck to Bob Bennett Ford, where he learned that any Truck parts damaged in the wreck or painted because of the wreck would not be covered by the warranty. Moreover, Craft was warned the warranty did not cover parts and components not replaced by genuine Ford parts. Components not covered by warranty included the used airbags from Lindsay and the generic parts from Keystone.

Craft never told Wright the Truck had been wrecked, purchased from State Farm at auction, and repaired. He maintained he did not know what was covered by the factory warranty, nor did he inform Wright about parts he specifically knew were not under factory warranty.

The Buyer's Guide Wright received at the time of purchase stated the Truck was sold "as is-no warranty." Wright inquired about the extent of the warranty and Craft wrote on the back of the Buyer's Guide "factory warranty, if applicable." When Wright asked why the factory warranty was qualified with "if applicable," Craft claimed he did not know how much time was remaining on the factory warranty. Craft made an additional notation on the back of the Buyer's Guide indicating the Truck had "previous paintwork."

While driving the Truck in September of 2002, Wright observed an illuminated check

640 S.E.2d 495

engine light, which was repaired under warranty at a Ford dealership. A month or so later, Wright experienced the Truck shaking and shutting off. He returned the Truck to the Ford dealership in October of 2002. David McCauley, a mechanic from the Ford dealership who owned the same model F-150, lifted the hood on his own truck to show Wright what the interior under the hood should look like. McCauley explained that if wreck damage was causing the Truck's trouble, the repair would not be covered under warranty. After learning the Truck had been wrecked, Wright called to complain to Craft, who told Wright there was nothing he could do. Wright grew concerned that the Truck was not safe to drive.

At trial, Ford Motors field service engineer, Stuart Sonnen, testified that repairs are not covered under a factory warranty if the parts used in the repairs are not manufactured by Ford or if the parts are not installed by an authorized Ford agent. Ray Morris, a former car salesman, averred that the Truck had serious safety concerns. Moreover, he claimed that in the retail market, the Truck was valueless in its current condition. John Disher, a Ford-certified body shop owner who qualified as an expert in the field of automotive repair, maintained the welds formed to repair the Truck were not satisfactory and did not meet factory specifications. Disher expressed concern about what might happen to the Truck in another accident. "The structural integrity [of the Truck] ha[d] not been restored and it would probably collapse."

Wright claimed his losses as a result of purchasing the Truck from Craft included: (1) $33.18 to have the hood fixed; (2) sixteen Truck payments totaling $6395.04; (3) twelve Truck payments after refinancing totaling $3739.80; (4) $12,766.21 remaining on his Truck loan obligation; and (5) negative equity on the vehicle he traded in for the Truck in the amount of $2643.92. Wright's total damages amounted to $25,578.15.

In Craft's statement of issues on appeal he contends the trial court erred in failing to: (1) grant the motion for directed verdict; (2) grant the motion for JNOV; (3) strike damages from the UTPA cause of action; (4) allow the entry of the Truck into evidence; (5) admit Wright's loan application into evidence; and (6) grant the motion for summary judgment. Additionally, Craft appeals the jury's verdict on the ground it was the result of undue passion and prejudice. Apart from his statement of issues on appeal, in his brief Craft asserts that Wright should have been estopped from alleging he suffered damages under the UTPA.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When legal and equitable actions are maintained in one suit, the court is presented with a divided scope of review, and each action retains its own identity as legal or equitable for purposes of review on appeal. Blackmon v. Weaver, 366 S.C. 245, 248-49, 621 S.E.2d 42, 44 (Ct.App.2005); Kiriakides v. Atlas Food Sys. & Servs., Inc., 338 S.C. 572, 580, 527 S.E.2d 371, 375 (Ct. App.2000) (citations omitted). The proper analysis is to view the actions separately for the purpose of determining the appropriate standard of review. Jordan v. Holt, 362 S.C. 201, 205, 608 S.E.2d 129, 131 (2005).

Actions at Law

In an action at law, on appeal of a case tried by a jury, the jurisdiction of the appellate court extends merely to the correction of errors of law, and a factual finding by the jury will not be disturbed unless a review of the record discloses there is no evidence which reasonably supports the jury's findings. Erickson v. Jones Street Publishers, L.L.C., 368 S.C. 444, 464, 629 S.E.2d 653, 663-64 (2006); R & G. Const. Inc., v. Lowcountry Reg'l Transp. Auth., 343 S.C. 424, 431, 540 S.E.2d 113, 117 (Ct.App.2000) cert. dismissed (July 22, 2002) rehearing denied (Aug 21, 2002). Townes Assocs., Ltd. v. City of Greenville, 266 S.C. 81, 85, 221 S.E.2d 773, 775 (1976).

When reviewing a motion for directed verdict or JNOV, an appellate court must employ the same standard as the trial court. Law v. S.C. Dep't of Corr., 368 S.C. 424, 434, 629 S.E.2d 642, 648 (2006); Proctor v. Dep't of Health and Envtl. Control, 368 S.C. 279, 292, 628 S.E.2d 496, 503 (Ct.App.

640 S.E.2d 496

2006) (citing Elam v. S.C. Dep't of Transp., 361 S.C. 9, 27-28, 602 S.E.2d 772, 782 (2004)); The Huffines Co., L.L.C. v. Lockhart, 365 S.C. 178, 187, 617 S.E.2d 125, 129 (Ct.App. 2005). On appeal from an order denying a directed verdict, an appellate court views the evidence and all reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Swinton Creek Nursery v. Edisto...

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172 practice notes
  • State v. Martucci, No. 4438.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 24, 2008
    ...428, 462 S.E.2d 263, 265 (1995) (citing State v. Bailey, 276 S.C. 32, 37, 274 S.E.2d 913, 916 (1981)); Wright v. Craft, 372 S.C. 1, 33, 640 S.E.2d 486, 503 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Funderburk, 367 S.C. 236, 239, 625 S.E.2d 248, 249-250 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Broaddus, 361 S.C. 534, 539, 605......
  • State v. Kirton, No. 4470.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 17, 2008
    ...263, 265 (1995) (citing State v. Bailey, 276 671 S.E.2d 115 S.C. 32, 37, 274 S.E.2d 913, 916 (1981)); Wright v. Craft, 372 S.C. 1, 33, 640 S.E.2d 486, 503 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Funderburk, 367 S.C. 236, 239, 625 S.E.2d 248, 249-250 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Broaddus, 361 S.C. 534, 539, 605 ......
  • State v. Lyles, No. 4406.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 6, 2008
    ...428, 462 S.E.2d 263, 265 (1995) (citing State v. Bailey, 276 S.C. 32, 37, 274 S.E.2d 913, 916 (1981)); Wright v. Craft, 372 S.C. 1, 33, 640 S.E.2d 486, 503 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Funderburk, 367 S.C. 236, 239, 625 S.E.2d 248, 249-250 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Broaddus, 361 S.C. 534, 539, 605......
  • State v. Ortho-Mcneil-Janssen Pharms., Inc., Appellate Case No. 2012-206987
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 25, 2015
    ...of the unfair or deceptive . . . act or practice was a willful or knowing violation of § 39-5-20.'" Wright v. Craft, 372 S.C. 1, 23-24, 640 S.E.2d 486, 498 (Ct. App. 2006) (quoting Noack Enters., Inc. v. Country Corner Interiors of Hilton Head Island, Inc., 290 S.C. 475, 477, 351 S.E.2d 347......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
172 cases
  • State v. Martucci, No. 4438.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 24, 2008
    ...428, 462 S.E.2d 263, 265 (1995) (citing State v. Bailey, 276 S.C. 32, 37, 274 S.E.2d 913, 916 (1981)); Wright v. Craft, 372 S.C. 1, 33, 640 S.E.2d 486, 503 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Funderburk, 367 S.C. 236, 239, 625 S.E.2d 248, 249-250 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Broaddus, 361 S.C. 534, 539, 605......
  • State v. Kirton, No. 4470.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 17, 2008
    ...263, 265 (1995) (citing State v. Bailey, 276 671 S.E.2d 115 S.C. 32, 37, 274 S.E.2d 913, 916 (1981)); Wright v. Craft, 372 S.C. 1, 33, 640 S.E.2d 486, 503 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Funderburk, 367 S.C. 236, 239, 625 S.E.2d 248, 249-250 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Broaddus, 361 S.C. 534, 539, 605 ......
  • State v. Lyles, No. 4406.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 6, 2008
    ...428, 462 S.E.2d 263, 265 (1995) (citing State v. Bailey, 276 S.C. 32, 37, 274 S.E.2d 913, 916 (1981)); Wright v. Craft, 372 S.C. 1, 33, 640 S.E.2d 486, 503 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Funderburk, 367 S.C. 236, 239, 625 S.E.2d 248, 249-250 (Ct.App.2006); State v. Broaddus, 361 S.C. 534, 539, 605......
  • State v. Ortho-Mcneil-Janssen Pharms., Inc., Appellate Case No. 2012-206987
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 25, 2015
    ...of the unfair or deceptive . . . act or practice was a willful or knowing violation of § 39-5-20.'" Wright v. Craft, 372 S.C. 1, 23-24, 640 S.E.2d 486, 498 (Ct. App. 2006) (quoting Noack Enters., Inc. v. Country Corner Interiors of Hilton Head Island, Inc., 290 S.C. 475, 477, 351 S.E.2d 347......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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