The Alabama Supreme Court has allowed a consumer to pursue his breach-of-warranty suit against General Motors and a dealership stemming from repeated stalling problems with a 1992 Chevrol et Camaro.
According to the court, Aaron Tucker bought the new Camaro from Jim Bishop Chevrolet-Buick-Oldsmobile Inc. of Florence and financed it through General Motors Acceptance Corp. He also bought an extended warranty.
Tucker soon began to experience stalling problems with the car at least three times a week, and the dealership's efforts to fix the problem failed, he contended. When the car was a year old, it stalled on the road as Tucker returned from National Guard duty. He hit a utility pole after losing the power steering and brakes and was injured.
After the car was repaired, it continued to stall. It allegedly broke down again over a Fourth of July weekend. When Tucker co uldn't restart it, he phoned for a tow truck but was told none would be available until the next day because of the holiday. The car was vandalized overnight while parked by the roadside, and the dealership allegedly refused to fix it afterward.
Acting on his then-lawyer's advice, Tucker stopped making payments on his loan, and GMAC repossessed the Camaro. He sued GM and Bishop, but not GMAC, in Colbert County Circuit Court for breach of warranty.
The defe ndants denied liability although the dealership did not dispute the fact that the car stalled repeatedly, the court said. The case was dismissed without trial, but the state Court of Civil Appeals later reinstated some of the claims. That ruling was appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court.
In the new decision, the Supreme Court held that Tucker is entitled to seek damages for breach-of-express warranty against GM and the dealership. At the same time, it said, he is entitled to a trial on his claim for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability against the dealership, namely that the car was unfit for its ordinary use.
The court rejected the dealership's argument that Tucker nee ds an expert witness to support the implied warranty allegations.
It also rejected the dealership's argument that by allowing GMAC to repossess the Camaro, Tucker is responsible for failing to preserve the car so defense experts could examine it.
Tucker's current lawyer, Ralph Young of Florence, said the case now will go to trial or to settlement negotiations.
Meanwhile, the dealership has asked the state Supreme Court for a new hearing, according to its attorney, Lindsey Mussleman Davis of Florence.