California dealerships that negotiate with a customer primarily in Spanish must provide a Spanish-language translation of his or her sales contract, even if that customer also speaks English.
That's the lesson from the California Court of Appeal as it held a Ford store in Tustin, Calif., liable for failing to provide the mandatory Spanish-language retail installment sales contract to a purchaser who dealt entirely in Spanish with a salesman but then spoke entirely in English with the finance manager.
The three-judge panel ruled unanimously that the dealership -- then known as Joe MacPherson Ford -- violated a state consumer protection law by not providing Juan Esparza with the retail installment sales contract in Spanish. Nothing in the law authorizes an exception to the requirement if a customer speaks both languages, the panel said.
Esparza didn't ask for a translated copy of the contract and was unaware of his right to have one, the decision said.
It overturned a jury verdict in favor of the dealership and allows Esparza to rescind the retail installment sales contract and related loan contract on the 2007 Ford Expedition he bought in 2013. His lawyer, Martin Anderson of Santa Ana, Calif., said he is researching whether the decision means the dealership also must pay Esparza's legal bills.