Case details

Newly purchased vehicle was defective, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

emotional distress, mental, psychological
On Jan. 12, 2013, plaintiff Raquel Gallegos purchased a 2009 Nissan Altima from Repossess Auto in Hawthorne. The purchase included a standard manufacturer’s warranty. Gallegos claimed that within one month of purchase, the vehicle needed a new battery, which she purchased herself despite it being covered under the warranty. She also claimed there other issues regarding the quality of the vehicle, including a faulty brake system that caused her to crash at a gas station on Feb. 18, 2013. Gallegos sued Repossess Auto Inc. Gallegos alleged that vehicle’s poor condition constituted a breach of the purchase contract and warranty. Gallegos appeared at a bench trial in pro per. Her claims were only stated on a form complaint, but Judge Patrick Madden allowed Gallegos to bring in any claim she had and even accepted Gallegos’ letters to defense counsel, listing all of her alleged damages. Gallegos claimed that as she pulled into the gas station to get gas on Feb. 18, 2013, her brakes failed, causing her to slam the car into a wall. She claimed she was going about 4 miles per hour when she pushed the brake pedal and the car failed to brake. Gallegos presented photographs she took from the accident scene, which she claimed illustrated the vehicle had no brake fluid. In addition, Gallegos claimed the overall quality of the vehicle made it not drivable, causing it to be left in storage due to its unsafe condition. Defense counsel disputed Gallegos’ claims regarding the subject vehicle. He argued that Gallegos had the car towed to a Nissan dealership, which ran diagnostic tests and found the brakes to be working properly. He further argued that the photographs Gallegos presented at trial showed that there was, in fact, brake fluid in the reservoir above the minimum line. Defense counsel called a Nissan service manager, who testified that Gallegos’ vehicle was not defective, that the brakes worked fine, and that it was likely that Gallegos’ foot slipped off the brake or got stuck on the gas and brake simultaneously during the accident on Feb. 18, 2013., Gallegos claimed that the subject vehicle experienced malfunctions, including a faulty brake system and a problem with its battery within one month of purchasing the vehicle. She contended that the problems compromised the vehicle’s safety and performance. Thus, Gallegos sought recovery of over $25,000 in damages, including over $11,000 in economic damages related to the condition of the vehicle and an unspecified amount of damages for her emotional distress. Defense counsel relied on the Nissan diagnostic test, which showed that the car was not defective and that the brakes could not, and did not, fail. Counsel also questioned the credibility of Gallegos, as Repossess Auto never received notice of any other alleged issues Gallegos may have had with the vehicle.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Long Beach, CA

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