February 20, 2024


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Judge wrongly dismissed lawsuit by customer who claimed auto dealer sold him a previously wrecked car: Pa. court

A county judge overstepped his bounds when he dismissed a lawsuit by a customer who claimed a car dealer had sold him a Ford Mustang that had been wrecked and rebuilt, a state appeals court panel has ruled.

Northumberland County Judge Charles H. Saylor tossed out the case Lawrence Pinno Jr. filed after finding Pinno had named the wrong defendants in the case.

That’s not so, the Superior Court found, so it reinstated the suit against the Blaise Alexander auto dealership chain and the Alexander employee who sold Pinno the car.

Pinno filed his suit in 2013, a year after buying the used 2005 Mustang from Alexander Buick Cadillac GMC Truck Inc. in Sunbury, Judge Mary Murray noted in the state court’s opinion.

Pinno, who has since died, contended he was told by the salesman that he didn’t want a car that had been previously damaged in any way. He said the salesman assured him the Mustang had never been in an accident and was in tip-top condition.

Murray noted that Pinno became suspicious after buying the car. He said he took it to several body shops where he was told the Mustang had in fact been wrecked and reconstructed at least once, had frame damage and was not in safe condition.

A mechanic for the dealership also inspected the Mustang and came to the opposite conclusion, Murray wrote.

Saylor dismissed the case this past January, finding Pinno had incorrectly identified the company he was suing as Blaise Alexander Family Dealership or Alexander Buick Cadillac GMC. Pinno should have sued Alexander Pontiac-Buick-Cadillac-GMC Truck, Inc., the county judge found.

It was Saylor who got it wrong, Murray found, because the defendant names in the suit are the same corporate names on the bill of sale Pinno received when he bought the Mustang.

Murray concluded that Saylor’s decision was even more “inappropriate” because the defendants in the case hadn’t even sought dismissal of Pinno’s suit over the name issue.

She sent the case back to the county court for further action.