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Couple Wins Huge Award for Run-in With Car Dealer

March 24, 1992

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ In 1979, Anthony and Juanita Ross took a test drive that turned into a 13- year legal and financial headache.

But now, the Kansas City couple may get millions of dollars for their run- in with an auto dealer.

A jury on Friday awarded the couple $6.7 million in their lawsuit against North Hills Lincoln-Mercury Inc., which went out of business in 1980, and Ford Motor Credit Corp.

James W. Humphrey Jr., attorney for Ford Motor Credit Corp., said he was shocked by the verdict and would file a motion for a new trial.

Telephone calls to the Ross home went unanswered.

The trouble began when in November 1979 the couple left their car with the dealership while they decided whether to buy a 1979 Mercury Grand Marquis.

They said dealership officials falsely told them their old car, a 1976 Buick, had been sold before they could return the Marquis.

Ross told the dealership he’d keep the new car until he was given his old car back or was paid for it, said the couple’s attorney, James S. Formby.

Formby said dealership officials then forged documents indicating the couple had bought the car and were to make payments to Ford Motor Credit Corp. The couple refused to make payments, and the car was repossessed in March 1980.

Formby said the car was returned to the couple after they filed suit later in 1980, but they didn’t drive it.

When Ross tried to buy another car, he learned his credit was no good because of the dispute with Ford Motor Credit Corp., Formby said.

The jury assessed the dealership $6,501 in actual damages and $2.2 million in punitive damages. Formby said that assessment was uncollectable.

But the jury also assessed $17,750 in actual damages and $4.5 million in punitive damages against Ford Motor Credit Corp.

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