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Boyd v. Steve's Key City Auto

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

October 26, 2017

SHANIKA MONEE BOYD, Plaintiff-Appellee,
STEVE'S KEY CITY AUTO, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 21st Judicial Circuit, Kankakee County, Illinois. Circuit No. 16-SC-335, Honorable Ronald J. Gerts, Judge, presiding.

          CARTER JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Holdridge and Justice McDade concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 This appeal arises from a small claims case brought by plaintiff, Shanika Monee Boyd, against defendant, Steve's Key City Auto, regarding her purchase of a used car from defendant. Defendant sold the used car to plaintiff "as-is, " and the car broke down and was inoperable a few days later. The trial court awarded plaintiff $1500. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider, which the trial court denied. Defendant appealed. We reverse.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 On March 16, 2016, plaintiff filed a small claims complaint against defendant, claiming that defendant was "indebted" to her in the sum of "$3, 000 for the price of the automobile." At trial plaintiff, who is hearing impaired, testified with the assistance of an unidentified female.

         ¶ 4 Plaintiff testified that on February 11, 2016, she purchased a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe (vehicle) from defendant-"Steve's Auto lot." Plaintiff indicated the original price of the vehicle was $2900, but because she "mentioned an ad he had online, he dropped the price to $2600." Plaintiff testified that she had the vehicle for approximately three days when it "broke down" on her way to work. She also testified that the only thing she had done to the car was get the oil changed.

         ¶ 5 Plaintiff further testified that she tried to get the vehicle fixed "because [defendant] wouldn't take it back." The initial estimate for repairs was $2200. When plaintiff brought the vehicle to a second repair shop, it was determined that the vehicle "needed a full pump, a starter, and a new engine, " with an estimated repair cost of $2000. Plaintiff testified that she had the car towed twice "in order to get it looked at to try to get [it] fixed." She also had purchased a new battery (because she thought it was the battery when the car originally stopped working) and had paid $762.96 "for the labor [done] for the timing belt because that's the only thing [she first] knew of." Plaintiff also testified that when she notified defendant her car had broken down, defendant offered her a $2000 credit toward the purchase of another vehicle. Defendant, however, did not have any $2000 cars available, and plaintiff did not have money to pay the difference for a more expensive vehicle over the $2000 credit that defendant was offering to her.

         ¶ 6 Defendant testified that plaintiff's vehicle actually broke down about nine days after she had purchased it. Defendant initially offered to "trade her out" or "do something, " but then he was informed that plaintiff had the oil changed the day before the motor went out. Defendant believed that it was "very common" for oil change places to drain the oil and start a vehicle without putting oil back in, and then they put oil in it and the motor goes out, maybe the next day or maybe the next month so as to prematurely wear out the motor.

         ¶ 7 Defendant provided the trial court with the Bill of Sale and the Buyer's Guide that had been signed by plaintiff. The bill of sale indicated that plaintiff purchased the vehicle for $2300 ("cash price") and paid $2847 after sales tax and fees (document fee, title fee, plate fee, and transfer fee). The bill of sale also showed that plaintiff had not been charged in relation to a "warranty fee, " that plaintiff initialed next to large print that indicated "AS IS-All used cars 'as is' unless indicated here" and also indicated "NON-REFUNDABLE; AS IS AND SHOWN." Plaintiff also signed the bill of sale, which indicated that she was accepting the terms set forth in the bill of sale.

         ¶ 8 Plaintiff also signed the "Buyers Guide, " which also indicated that she was purchasing the vehicle as-is and without a warranty. The buyers guide provided, in large, bold, capital lettering, on the middle of the page, that the warranty applicable for the vehicle was "AS IS - NO WARRANTY." Next to that, in somewhat smaller print-but still in bold, capital lettering-it indicated, "YOU WILL PAY ALL COSTS FOR ANY REPAIRS." Next to that language, the buyer's guide further indicated, "[t]he dealer assumes no responsibility for any repairs regardless of any oral statements about the vehicle." The plaintiff signed the buyers guide in the middle of the page, in the section indicating "AS IS-NO WARRANTY."

         ¶ 9 In the buyers guide, below the "as is" section, was a section indicating "WARRANTY" that was left blank. The buyer's guide also indicated that a service contract was available for an extra charge and that if a service contract was bought within 90 days of the sale, then state law "implied warranties" may give the purchaser additional rights. There was no indication that plaintiff purchased a service contract.

         ¶ 10 Defendant testified that the vehicle had been advertised at the full price with a warranty but the warranty was no longer offered when the price was reduced. He explained, "[w]hen we drop[ ] the price of the vehicles, the first thing that goes is the warranty." Defendant also testified that plaintiff had signed for the purchase of the vehicle "as-is." He indicated, "[w]e sell all vehicles as is, even if you get a warranty." Defendant contended that plaintiff had owned the vehicle for nine days and, in his experience, a faulty oil change can lead to mechanical trouble.

         ¶ 11 Plaintiff testified that she did not purchase the warranty because it was never mentioned to her by the salesperson and she would have paid more for the vehicle if a warranty had been mentioned. Plaintiff indicated to the court that she was requesting $2000 ...

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