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Odometer Fraud Award

Griffin | Williams LLP recently obtained an award through the American Arbitration Association on behalf of our client, a car buyer, and against a regional dealership group for odometer fraud under the Federal Odometer Act, 49 U.S.C. §32705.

The underlying facts were shocking. The dealership obtained a 2004 car with an odometer reading of 44,240 in 2011. However, the car’s title reflected a mileage of 56,295 in 2008. It seemed that over the course of three years, the car actually lost roughly 12,000 miles! To make matters worse, a Carfax history report obtained by the dealership showed reported mileage of 56,701 in November of 2006, 56,201 in May of 2007 and 15,050 in July of 2007. Despite knowing about these discrepancies, the dealership took no action to investigate the actual mileage of the car and, instead, sold the vehicle to our client with a disclosed “actual mileage” of 44,240 in May of 2011.

Three months after our client purchased the car, the transmission of the vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure. An inspection of the transmission revealed wear and tear commensurate with a vehicle that had been driven well over 100,000 miles. A subsequent investigation into the vehicle’s history clearly revealed an odometer rollback.

At arbitration, the dealership’s general manager was questioned as to why the car was sold with mileage disclosure of 44,240. The general manager testified that the prior owner “assured” him that the 2008 title was issued “in error” and that he did not want to hold up the sale of the car with efforts to correct the “error.” The arbitrator not only found against the dealership, but awarded our client the maximum amount of damages under the Federal Odometer Act as well his attorney’s fees.

Consumers and car dealerships should take great caution when confronted with odometer reading discrepancies. The Consumer Federation of American estimates that 1 in 10 cars in America have a rolled back odometer and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 450,000 car odometers are rolled back annually. Computer equipment and software exists that make even the most sophisticated electronic odometers susceptible to rollbacks. Such rollbacks often go unreported in car purchases and can result in damages that are well in excess of the actual purchase price of the vehicles.

The attorneys of Griffin | Williams LLP proudly work with consumers and dealerships alike in confronting and solving the problems associated with odometer rollbacks.