A Missouri Supreme Court verdict in a case that started with a dispute over a vehicle repossession could have far-reaching implications beyond the auto lending industry. Legal experts say the ruling could open the door for consumers from multiple states to form class-action lawsuits against any business, even if the laws from the various states differ from those in the state where the plaintiff resides. The Missouri high court affirmed a lower court's certification of a class in the dispute.
Ally Financial Inc., one of the largest U.S. auto lenders, filed a petition Aug. 14 to the U.S. Supreme Court to review Ally Financial vs. Alberta Haskins, et al., a conflict that began when Missouri residents Alberta Haskins and David Duncan defaulted on an auto loan with Ally for a used 2006 Chevrolet Colorado.
Ally repossessed the truck and sold it at auction in 2012. The lender sued for the couple's $4,000 deficiency on their finance contract in March 2016, according to a July 31 government filing. Haskins and Duncan countersued in 2017, claiming, among other things, that Ally's pre- and post-disposition notices to consumers violated provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code. The allegations specify issues with how the lender clarified how redemption payments must be made and that in the pre-sale notice for the repossessed vehicles, the lender failed to identify co-buyers who lived at separate addresses who were also sent copies of the notice.