A northern Illinois dealership must pay $29,853 for refusing to honor a customers contract for a high-demand, limited-availability Plymouth Prowler.
The Illinois Appellate Court upheld a trial decision that Crystal Lake Chrysler-Plymouth Inc. breached its contract by selling the promised car at a higher price to another customer.
The damage award represents the extra amount Donald Hessler paid to another dealership for a 1997 Prowler.
According to the court, Hessler signed a contract and paid a $5,000 deposit to buy a Prowler for $5,000 above the manufacturers list price after Chrysler Corp. announced the vehicle. The contract listed ASAP as the delivery date.
The co-owner of the dealership acknowledged in testimony that Hessler was the first person to place an order.
Despite several conversations between the two men including one about Chryslers expected $39,000 list price Crystal Lake sold the only Prowler it received that year to someone else for $54,859. The other customer signed his contract more than three months after Hessler.
Hessler then contacted dozens of other dealerships before finding a Prowler for almost $78,000.
He went to 38 other dealerships to find another car, says his lawyer, Joseph Gottemoller of Crystal Lake. It was the best deal he could find.
At a nonjury trial, a McHenry County Circuit judge awarded Hessler the difference between the contract price and what he paid.
In upholding the award, the appellate court found enough evidence that the dealership wrongfully breached its agreement with Hessler. In a unanimous opinion by Justice Thomas Callum, the appellate court also said Hessler had acted in good faith in shopping for an alternative Prowler.
Dealership lawyer James Campion of Crystal Lake says his client is not expected to appeal further.
You can e-mail Eric Freedman at [email protected]