Repo suit against Idaho GMC store tossed

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A federal judge has dismissed a lessee’s lawsuit against a Boise, Idaho, dealership, several of its officers and employees, and a lender stemming from two repossessions of the same vehicle.

The judge found no legal basis for any of the claims.

In 2009, Wendi Meer leased a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee from Dennis Dillon Auto Park & Truck Center Inc., which sells new GMC, Nissan, Mazda, Kia, Isuzu and Fiat vehicles. Treasure Valley Leasing provided financing under a two-year lease, according to court documents.

In November 2010, Meer’s auto insurer notified Treasure Valley that her coverage was about to lapse for nonpayment of premiums. The lender in turn notified Meer that the vehicle would be repossessed if she didn’t obtain new coverage, according to the decision.

Repossessed twice

Although Meer secured a new policy by the deadline, she failed to promptly notify Treasure Valley, which repossessed the car. She got the Grand Cherokee back the same day after providing proof of insurance.

The following spring, a dispute arose over late payments and automatic withdrawals from Meer’s checking account. Treasure Valley says Meer requested that the lender stop taking automatic monthly withdrawals from her account, which it did. Meer denies making any such request.

Even so, no money was withdrawn from Meer’s account in June 2011, and payment became overdue. Rather than paying, however, Meer notified Treasure Valley that she was repudiating the lease.

The lender repossessed the car again.

Meer sued for $16 million for alleged violations of the Uniform Commercial Code, consumer protection and collection laws, and related claims.

‘Untenable’

The defense, in asking U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill to throw out the case, argued that Meer took the “untenable position” that failure to automatically withdraw a payment from her account eliminated her obligation to make further payments.

The judge agreed that the suit lacks merit.

Although there was no actual lapse in coverage, Meer “chose to wait until after repossession to reveal her new insurance, and the consequence of her choice is that she cannot now sue the defendants for the repossession,” the judge said.

As for the second repossession, Meer failed to make a payment and “repudiated her obligation to pay, telling the lender that ‘this contested debt will never be paid by myself, heirs or assigns.’” That, the judge said, justified termination of the lease and repossession of the vehicle.

Appeal

Meer, who represents herself in the suit, has filed a notice of appeal.

Defense lawyer Mark Sebastian of Boise said his clients have decided not to seek sanctions against Meer for filing a frivolous suit.

You can reach Eric Freedman at freedma5@msu.edu.

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