Posted on Oct 13, 2007
Jury awards $100,000 to man for lemon Jaguar
By JANE MUSGRAVE
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 12, 2007
WEST PALM BEACH — What began as a $10,000 lemon turned into a $100,000-plus gold mine for a former West Palm Beach man.
A Palm Beach County jury on Thursday ordered a Belle Glade car dealership to pay Benjamin Figgie $100,000 in punitive damages for refusing to give him back the $10,000 he paid for a 1998 Jaguar he couldn't even drive off the lot.
Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Stern had already ordered Belle Glade Chevrolet-Cadillac-Buick-Pontiac-Oldsmobile Inc. to repay Figgie $10,000.
Because the judge ruled that the dealership had committed civil theft, the 33-year-old is entitled to recover triple that amount, or $30,000, said attorney Bill Pincus, who represents Figgie.
Pincus said he also will seek attorney's fees, which could add roughly $200,000 to the dealership's tab.
The saga began in January when Figgie, who now lives in Fort Lauderdale, went to the lot to test drive the car. He said he wanted it but needed time to line up a loan.
He returned to the dealership two weeks later, handed over the $10,000 and got the keys to the car.
What the dealership didn't tell him was that sometime during those two weeks someone had driven the car 2,000 miles and the engine had blown up, Pincus said.
When the car wouldn't start, Figgie demanded his money back.
"Too bad," Pincus said he was told, "you bought it as is."
While the car remained at the dealership, Figgie pleaded with salesmen to refund his money. When they refused, he filed suit.
The current manager of the dealership said he had been on the job for two weeks and wasn't familiar with the case.
He referred phone calls to Douglas Plattner of Sarasota, who is a director of the corporation. He couldn't be reached for comment. Their attorneys didn't return phone calls.
However, they have already said in court papers they plan to appeal.
Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Arthur England, who specializes in appellate work, is part of the dealership's legal team.