A federal judge in Georgia has tossed a lawsuit by a used-car dealer who claims an Atlanta-area CarMax store wrongfully refused to sell him a new 2013 Jeep Wrangler.
LaVan Webster claimed he tried to buy the Wrangler for his wife's personal use. But the dealership, in Norcross, Ga., said it believed Webster intended to resell the Wrangler on behalf of his used-vehicle store.
Webster sued CarMax Auto Superstores Inc. for breach of contract, discrimination and unfair trade practices and asked for compensatory and punitive damages. U.S. District Judge Richard Story in Atlanta dismissed all three claims.
According to the judge's decision, a buyer's order in February 2013 listed Webster and his wife as individual purchasers of the Wrangler for a retail price of $37,869, including a rebate. But neither Webster nor the dealership signed the document.
Webster returned three days later with a check from Credit Master Auto Sales Inc., a Gainesville, Ga., business that buys and sells used vehicles and lists Webster as agent for service of process, according to the decision. The dealership told Webster it couldn't sell the Wrangler for less than $39,630 because "it could not offer rebates intended for retail customers to used-car dealers," the decision said.
Webster refused to pay the higher price. CarMax's assistant business office manager contacted a Chrysler representative, who said the dealership's Jeep sales and service agreement barred it from selling new vehicles to used-vehicle dealers for resale. The dealership then told Webster it could not sell him the Wrangler, according to the decision.
Webster bought an "identical vehicle" from a different dealership and registered it in his wife's name, the decision said.
The lawsuit asserts CarMax told Webster he did not meet the requirements to buy the Wrangler but did not explain what this meant, according to the decision. Webster believed "these requirements could refer to his race, mental capacity or some other discriminatory factor," the decision said.
In court papers denying liability, CarMax argued that Webster was ineligible to buy the Wrangler because such a sale "would have been in violation of CarMax's franchise agreement."