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Tyson v. Sterling Rental, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 20, 2015

SeTara Tyson, Plaintiff,
Sterling Rental, Inc., d/b/a Car Source, Al Chami, and Rami Kamil, Defendants

For Setara Tyson, Plaintiff: Amanda Marie Longendyke, Lyngklip & Associates Consumer Law Center, Southfield, MI; Carl Schwartz, Lyngklip & Associates Consumer Law Center, PLC, Southfield, MI; Ian B. Lyngklip, Lyngklip Assoc Consumer Law Center, PLC, Southfield, MI.

For Al Chami, Rami Kamil, Sterling Rental, Inc., Defendants: Ziyad P. Kased, Troy, MI.

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Hon. JUDITH E. LEVY, United States District Judge.

This is a consumer credit case. Pending is defendants Sterling Rental (" Car Source" ), Al Chami, and Rami Kamil's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. 33.) Pursuant to E.D. Mich. Local R. 7.1(f)(2), the Court will determine this motion without a hearing.

I. Background

On August 10, 2013, plaintiff went to Car Source to purchase a vehicle. Plaintiff brought with her biweekly pay stubs from her job at McDonald's, a copy of her most recent bank statement, and a $1,200 check from the Family Independence Agency (" FIA" ) to assist with the purchase of the car.

Car Source's representative input plaintiff's information into its Credit Application Process System (" CAPS" ) and gave plaintiff a blank second page of the application to sign. Plaintiff signed the page. Car Source then submitted the application

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to the Michigan Credit Acceptance Corporation (" MCAC" ), Car Source's finance company. MCAC approved plaintiff for a loan. The retail installment contract plaintiff signed that day assigned the contract from Car Source, named as the " Creditor-Seller," to MCAC. Plaintiff then purchased a 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt, handing over the $1,200 FIA check to Car Source.

On August 12, 2013, Car Source called plaintiff and informed her that the deal had fallen through, and asked her to return to the dealership. Plaintiff further alleges that Car Source told her that the paperwork needed to be rewritten, and that Car Source needed to install a new GPS in the vehicle. When she arrived, Chami asked for her keys and drove the car to the service bay. Plaintiff then alleges that Chami and Kamil emptied her car and left her belongings at her feet. At that point, plaintiff was told she had to surrender her contract and pay an additional $1,500 to keep the car. Plaintiff states that she informed Chami and Kamil that she did not have another $1,500, at which point they refused to return the car and verbally abused her.

Defendants state the reason plaintiff was called back in and her car was taken is that she allegedly misrepresented her income on her application. The application stated that plaintiff's income was $1,817.38, when the documentation she provided showed an actual income of only $1,000 a month. Defendants state that they invited plaintiff back in to restructure her contract. The offer defendants claim to have made would have required an additional $1,500 payment, but would have reduced her payments by $100 a month.

Plaintiff brought suit against defendants on August 14, 2013. On August 20, 2013, defendants sent plaintiff a letter requesting she remove the car from their property. She has not done so.

Plaintiff amended her complaint on September 9, 2014. Plaintiff brings claims for violation of the Truth in Lending Act (" TILA" ), 15 U.S.C. § 1602(f) and regulation Z § 226.2(a)(17) against Car Source, violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (" ECOA" ), 15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq. against Car Source, common law conversion against Car Source, statutory conversion against all defendants, violations of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act, M.C.L. § 492.101 et seq., Uniform Commercial Code (" UCC" ) Art. 9, M.C.L. § 440.9101 et seq., and the Michigan Credit Reform Act, M.C.L. § 445.1851 et seq., and for breach of contract and breach of warranty of title, each against Car Source.

Defendants filed their motion for summary judgment on October 31, 2014. Following a call with the Court regarding discovery issues, plaintiff's response date was moved to December 22, 2014. Plaintiff filed her response on that date. Defendants did not reply to the response. The motion is now ripe for consideration.

II. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is proper where " the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court may not grant summary judgment if " the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202. The Court " views the evidence, all facts, and any inferences that may be drawn from the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Pure Tech Sys., Inc. v. Mt. Hawley Ins. Co., 95 F.App'x 132, 135 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Skousen v. Brighton High Sch., 305 F.3d 520, 526 (6th Cir. 2002)).

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III. Analysis

A. Defense Counsel's Conduct

This is the third dispositive motion defendants have filed in this case, and the second the Court has addressed. The first motion was defendants' motion to dismiss (Dkt. 16), which the Court denied. (Dkt. 24.) In that motion, defense counsel revealed a significant lack of familiarity with the appropriate structure for a legal argument. Defense counsel opted to forego the accepted practice of making his argument in the brief in support of his motion to dismiss, as is required by the Local Rules of this District. See E.D. Mich. Local R. 7.1(d). Instead, he crafted " exhibits" that copied and pasted sentences from the complaint and asserted almost wholly without argument that those sentences did not meet the standard required for a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

Defense counsel has now opted to follow a more traditional briefing format for this motion. This motion is based in large part on what counsel argues were admissions he extracted from plaintiff at her deposition.

" The purpose of a deposition is to memorialize testimony or to obtain information that can be used at trial or that eliminates the pursuit of issues or that inform decisions as to the future course of the litigation. One of the main purposes of the discovery rules, and the deposition rules in particular, is to elicit the facts before the trial and to memorialize witness testimony before the recollection of events fade . . . ." E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 277 F.R.D. 286, 297 (E.D. Va. 2011) (emphasis added).

The purpose of a deposition is not to repeatedly demand that a deponent, represented by counsel, demonstrate knowledge of the law underpinning her claims. Nor is the purpose of a deposition to demand that a deponent specifically assign the facts in her knowledge or possession to the legal claims she is making. Defense counsel repeatedly engaged in exchanges such as the following (defense counsel is the questioner, plaintiff is answering):

Q. Can you tell me in your own words the specific facts that led you to accuse Car Source of violating the ...

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