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KLEIN v. PINCUS
July 23, 1975
ALEXANDER KLEIN, Plaintiff,
MARTIN PINCUS, d/b/a FOUR ACE SERVICE, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: PLATT
Plaintiff sues under the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act (15 U.S.C. § 1981, et seq.) for three times the amount of actual damages sustained (or $1,500.00 whichever is the greater) plus reasonable attorneys fees on the ground that defendant reset or altered the odometer of a motor vehicle purchased by the plaintiff from the defendant and/or failed to disclose the cumulative mileage listed on the odometer or that the actual mileage was unknown.
The statute provides in pertinent part as follows:
"The Congress hereby finds that purchasers, when buying motor vehicles, rely heavily on the odometer reading as an index of the condition and value of such vehicle; that purchasers are entitled to rely on the odometer reading as an accurate reflection of the mileage actually traveled by the vehicle; that an accurate indication of the mileage traveled by a motor vehicle assists the purchaser in determining the safety and reliability; and that motor vehicles move in the current of interstate and foreign commerce or affect such commerce. It is therefore the purpose of this subchapter to prohibit tampering with odometers on motor vehicles and to establish certain safeguards for the protection of purchasers with respect to the sale of motor vehicles having altered or reset odometers.
"It is unlawful for any person or his agent to disconnect, reset, or alter the odometer of any motor vehicle with the intent to change the number of miles indicated thereon.
"(a) Not later than 90 days after October 20, 1972, the Secretary shall prescribe rules requiring any transferor to give the following written disclosure to the transferee in connection with the transfer of ownership of a motor vehicle:
(1) Disclosure of the cumulative mileage registered on the odometer.
(2) Disclosure that the actual mileage is unknown, if the odometer reading is known to the transferor to be different from the number of miles the vehicle has actually traveled.
Such rules shall prescribe the manner in which information shall be disclosed under this section and in which such information shall be retained.
(b) It shall be a violation of this section for any transferor to violate any rules under this section or to knowingly give a false statement to a transferee in making any disclosure required by such rules.
"(a) Any person who, with intent to defraud, violates any requirement imposed under this subchapter shall be liable in an amount equal to the sum of --
(1) three times the amount of actual damages sustained or $1,500, whichever is the greater; and
(2) in the case of any successful action to enforce the foregoing liability, the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney fees as determined by the court.
"(b) An action to enforce any liability created under subsection (a) of this section, may be brought in a United States district court without regard to the amount in controversy, or in any other court of competent jurisdiction, within two years from the date on which the liability arises."
The pertinent portions of the Rules promulgated by the Secretary provide as follows (49 CFR ...
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