Tag Archives: consumer

If a Car Dealer Says, “it is what it is; you have to pay it”, Should You Believe it? Does the Question Answer Itself?

Fired for a girlfriend’s vehicle purchase.  No cause of action, or can we think of something?

Here we have the basics of the allegations, as framed by the appellate court:

Hedrick began working for Wolfe in October, 2010. On May 26, 2012, Hedrick approached the General Sales Manager, Jason Brink (“Brink”), about his live-in girlfriend’s desire to purchase a Honda. Brink quoted Hedrick a price that was about $600 above that car’s normal price point. Hedrick asked why the price was higher and Brink replied that “it is what it is; you have to pay it.” Following this, Hedrick and his girlfriend shopped around and received a quote from another Honda dealer that was $1,000 below the price that Hedrick received from Brink. Hedrick’s girlfriend then purchased the car from the competing Honda dealer. On June 1, 2012, Brink asked Hedrick whether his girlfriend had purchased the Honda elsewhere and Hedrick confirmed that she did. Later that night, Brink informed Hedrick that he was terminated, stating “[a]s your employer, I can’t have somebody work for me who bought a car somewhere else, so I have to let you go.”

Following his termination, Hedrick submitted a written request for a service letter. Wolfe subsequently issued Hedrick a letter that stated in part:

We do, however, fully expect our employees and members of their household to purchase new Honda vehicles from our dealership … Based on the fact that you or the person with whom you live as husband and wife … purchased a new Honda Accord SE from a direct competitor on or about mid-late May without giving the Company the opportunity to meet the price quoted, we made the decision to terminate the employment relationship …

The odious circumstances are provided by Hedrick v. Jay Wolfe Imports I, LLC, 404 S.W.3d 454, 456 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013).

The court rejects a creative claim that the circumstances fit into a public policy exception to at-will employment:

Hedrick contends that Missouri has a clear public policy of allowing citizens to freely conduct business and that by patronizing his employer’s competitor for a better price in purchasing a Honda, he and his live-in girlfriend acted in accordance with a public policy that Missouri encourages. He asserts that his termination falls under the public policy exception because he was terminated for acting in accordance with public policy. We disagree.

Id. at 458.

Let’s see if we can find an alternative way to frame the claim, shall we?

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unPeeling the Impact of Assignments on MMPA Rights

Can a seller, in a transaction covered by the MMPA, by assigning rights and delegating duties pretermit the other’s rights under the MMPA?  There appears to be some question.  Peel v. Credit Acceptance Corp., 2013 WL 2301095 (Mo. App. W.D. May 28, 2013), and prior authority, raise some interesting questions.  We below provide a somewhat complicated discussion of certain issues raised.  As an introduction, let us not provide some basic observations under the common law of contracts (understanding that FTC rules also may apply):

  • An obligor cannot assign rights without the consent of the obligee if the assignment operates to materially affect the rights of the obligee.
  • An assignment of the right to payment under a contract, where the payee’s performance is subject to the MMPA, would materially affect the rights of the obligee if the assignment operated to eliminate protections in the debt collection process that would be otherwise available absent the assignment.
  • It would appear that a party cannot consent to elimination of protection of the MMPA.  There would not seem to be a useful reason not to apply that to consenting to an assignment in circumstances that operated to eliminate MMPA protections.
  • Were a court to determine an assignee of a debt representing deferred payments from a payor benefitting from the MMPA was not subject to the MMPA, effectiveness of the assignment would therefore require the assignor remained liable for any practice engaged-in by the assignee that would be actionable had there not been an assignment and it had been performed by the assignor.

More after the break …

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The Wheels Come Off This Attempt to Defend an MMPA Claim—Jackson v. Hazelrigg Automotive Service, Inc., 2013 WL 3191829 (Mo. Ct. App. S.D.)

At some time, Missouri courts will clarify whether the following words, split infinitive and all, mean what they say:

“(1) It is an unfair practice … to unilaterally breach unambiguous provisions of consumer contracts….”

15 CSR 60-8.070.  One hopes they do.

If one thinks businesses’ performance of consumer contracts is characterized by an overabundance of diligence—and that the law should encourage more inadequate and defective performance—one would seek to construe non-literally the words of this rule.  Taking-up the standard is a car repair facility in Jackson v. Hazelrigg Automotive Service, Inc., 2013 WL 3191829 (Mo. Ct. App. S.D.).