United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDERGRANTINGINPART AND DENYINGIN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT[#14]
Gershwin A. Drain United States District Court Judge
before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment. Dkt. No. 14. Defendants request this Court dismiss
the present action because Plaintiff does not bring enough
evidence to support her claims. Plaintiff asserts that her
deposition and other evidence in the record are sufficient to
preclude summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below,
the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendants'
12, 2016, Plaintiff's 2004 Trailblazer would not start,
and she had it towed to Defendant Jefferson Chevrolet
(Dealer). Dkt. No. 18-1, pg. 7-8 (Pg. ID 420-21). The next
day, Plaintiff learned that her car was not repairable.
Id. at pg. 8 (Pg. ID 421). She discussed buying a
new car with a salesperson at Jefferson Chevrolet, Wilson
Andrew Roberts. See Id. Plaintiff lives off of a
limited income. Plaintiff receives $912.00 per month via
Social Security Disability. Id. at pg. 6 (Pg. ID
419). She also receives about $20.00 per month in child
support payments because she is the primary caretaker of her
seven-year-old grandson. Id. at pg. 5, 19 (Pg. ID
418, 432). Plaintiff receives $90.00 per month in food
stamps. Dkt. No. 1-2, pg. 4 (Pg. ID 10). Therefore, Plaintiff
discussed buying an “affordable” car with Mr.
Roberts, with payments at around $300.00 per month. Dkt. No.
18-1, pg. 8 (Pg. ID 421).
alleges that Defendant Dealer extended her consumer credit to
buy a 2016 Chevrolet Traverse. Dkt. No. 1-2, pg. 3 (Pg. ID
9). Plaintiff states that Defendant Dealer, through her
discussions with Mr. Roberts, told her that it would accept
her 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer as a trade-in on the purchase
of the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse. Id. From her
conversation with Mr. Roberts, Plaintiff believed that the
total cost of the 2016 Traverse was $28, 000. Dkt. No. 18-1,
pg. 14 (Pg. ID 427). Plaintiff's monthly payments on her
2004 Trailblazer were $381.00 per month. Id. at pg.
8 (Pg. ID 421). Mr. Roberts told Plaintiff that her monthly
payments on the 2016 Traverse would be less than her payments
on her 2004 Trailblazer, about $350.00 per month or lower.
Id. at pg. 9 (Pg. ID 422). This is despite the fact
that the newer car cost more-Plaintiff's 2004 Trailblazer
cost a total of $10, 000 and Plaintiff believed the 2016
Traverse to cost $28, 000. Id. at pg. 8-9 (Pg. ID
421-22). Plaintiff did not think this was abnormal because
she believed that she was getting a special deal, similar to
deals that she had seen on television. Id. at pg. 14
(Pg. ID 427). Defendant Dealer also agreed to pay off the
lien-approximately $6, 800-on Plaintiff's 2004
Trailblazer. Id. at pg. 8 (Pg. ID 421).
13, 2016, Plaintiff entered into a Retail Installment Sales
Contract (RISC) with Defendant Dealer. Dkt. No. 14-3.
Defendant Dealer assigned the RISC to Defendant Ally
Financial Services, Inc. (Ally Financial). Dkt. No. 1-2, pg.
3 (Pg. ID 9). The first page of the RISC includes Federal
Truth-In-Lending Disclosures, which states the annual
percentage rate, finance charge, amount financed, total
payments, and total sale price of the deal. Dkt. No. 14-3,
pg. 2 (Pg. ID 88). The first page of this document also lists
Plaintiff's monthly payment on the Traverse as $655.69
per month. Id. Plaintiff alleges that she only saw
the second page of the RISC on the day that she signed it.
Dkt. No. 18-1, pg. 15 (Pg. ID 428). Plaintiff also asserts
that none of the terms of the contract were filled in when
she signed it, except for a rebate amount of $7,
826.00. Id. at pg. 11 (Pg. ID 424).
Plaintiff signed the contract despite it being mostly blank
because Mr. Roberts “asked [her] to. He was the dealer,
[and Plaintiff] was following his instructions.” Dkt.
No. 18-1, pg. 11 (Pg. ID 424). Plaintiff asserts that she did
not receive any documents before signing the RISC.
Id. Plaintiff also states that the only documents
she received to take home after she signed the RISC were
registration documents for the 2016 Traverse. Id.
took possession of the 2016 Traverse after signing the RISC.
Defendant Dealer had Plaintiff's 2004 Trailblazer towed
back to her house for Gateway, the company with a lien on the
Trailblazer, to pick up. Id. at pg. 9 (Pg. ID 422).
Dealer claimed there was no room for Plaintiff's 2004
Trailblazer on the lot. Id. at pg. 10 (Pg. ID 423).
The keys to the 2004 Trailblazer stayed in the car.
Id. Plaintiff did not know her 2004 Trailblazer was
not traded in until Gateway called and asked for payment on
the Trailblazer. Id. at pg. 15 (Pg. 428). Plaintiff
then discovered that Defendant Dealer did not pay off her
lien on the 2004 Trailblazer. Id. at pg. 5 (Pg. ID
11). Plaintiff also discovered that the monthly payments on
the 2016 Traverse were higher than what Defendant Dealer had
represented-approximately $655.69 per month. Id. at
pg. 6 (Pg. ID 12); Dkt. No. 1-2, pg. 6 (Pg. ID 12). The 2004
Trailblazer was repossessed due to Plaintiff's missed
payments. Id. at pg. 18 (Pg. ID 431). Plaintiff was
also not able to meet her payments on the 2016 Traverse, and
it was repossessed. Id. Plaintiff's credit score
went from about 690 to 494 after the repossessions.
Id. Plaintiff now has to pay family members to
complete her daily travels around town. Id.
Plaintiff also states that she still owes Gateway $6, 800,
and she owes Ally Financial approximately $12, 000 after the
repossession of the 2016 Traverse. Id. at pg. 19
(Pg. ID 432).
filed her complaint in the Circuit Court for Wayne County on
May 22, 2017. Dkt. No. 1-2, pg. 16 (Pg. ID 22). In her
complaint, Plaintiff alleges eight counts: (1) fraud and/or
misrepresentation, (2) breach of contract, (3) violation of
the Michigan Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act, (4) violation
of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, (5) conversion and
treble damages, (6) violation of the Truth in Lending Act,
(7) Holder Liability, and (8) exemplary damages. Id.
at pg. 6-15 (pg. ID 12-21). On June 23, 2017, Defendants
removed the action to this Court based on federal question
jurisdiction for Plaintiff's claim under the Truth in
Lending Act. Dkt. No. 1. On January 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed
a Motion to Reopen Discovery in order to dispose the
salesperson who contracted with Plaintiff, Wilson Andrew
Roberts. Dkt. No. 15. Defendants opposed the Motion on
February 12, 2018 citing Plaintiff's delay in initiating
discovery. Dkt. No. 17. This Court denied the Motion on March
19, 2018. On January 30, 2018, Defendants filed the present
Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff opposed the Motion on
February 21, 2018. Dkt. No. 18. Defendants filed a reply on
March 6, 2018. Dkt. No. 21.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) governs summary judgment. The
Rule states, “summary judgment shall be granted if
‘there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and
that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter
of law.'” Cehrs v. Ne. Ohio Alzheimer's
Research Ctr., 155 F.3d 775, 779 (6th Cir. 1998).
“All factual inferences ‘must be viewed in the
light most favorable to the party opposing the
motion.'” Id. (quoting Matsushita
Elec. Indus., Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986)). There is a genuine issue of material fact
“if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 255 (1986)). Ultimately, the court evaluates
“whether the evidence presents a sufficient
disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is
so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.
Truth In Lending Act (Count VI)
sole federal claim, count six of her complaint, alleges a
violation of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). Dkt. No. 1-2,
pg. 13 (Pg. ID 19). The Truth in Lending Act requires several
disclosures to consumers, such as the amount financed, the
finance charge, the annual percentage rate, the total of
payments, and the sale price. 15 U.S.C. § 1638.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated 15 U.S.C. §
1638(3)-(6), and (9) by not disclosing the amount financed,
the finance charge, the annual percentage rate, the total of
payments, the sale price, and the security interest.
See Dkt. No. 1-2, pg. 14 (Pg. 20). Plaintiff also
alleges that Defendants violated 15 U.S.C. § 1638(b) and
Regulation Z, 12 CFR §§ 226.17 and 226.18, by not
giving Plaintiff a copy of the disclosures in a form that she
could keep prior to signing the RISC. Dkt. No. 19, pg. 7 (Pg.
deposition testimony asserts that the RISC that she signed
was blank when she signed it, except for the rebate section.
Dkt. No. 18-1 at pg. 11 (Pg. ID 424). Plaintiff's
deposition testimony also asserts that Defendant Dealer did
not give her any paperwork to take home with her before she
signed the RISC- Plaintiff only received her registration
after she had signed the RISC. Id. Plaintiff cannot
provide any corroborating evidence that the RISC was not
filled out when she signed it besides her own testimony.
Id. at pg. 20 (Pg. ID 433). Additionally, no other
evidence in the record supports Plaintiff's testimony.
Dealer claims that it provided Plaintiff with all the
required disclosures when she received a copy of the RISC
when she bought the 2016 Traverse. Dkt. No. 14, pg. 23 (Pg.
ID 154). On page two of the RISC, Plaintiff signed directly
below a statement indicating that before she signed the
contract, “[Defendant Dealer] gave it to [her], and
[Plaintiff was] free to take it and review it.” Dkt.
No. 14-3, pg. 3 (Pg. ID 189 The statement also read,
“[y]ou confirm that you received a completely filled-in
copy when you signed it.” Id. Defendants also
provided the affidavit of Brian Tellier, General Manager of
Jefferson Chevrolet. Mr. Tellier testified that it was
impossible for the RISC to only have the rebate amount of $7,
826.00 filled in when Plaintiff signed it. Dkt. No. 14-7, pg.
3 (Pg. ID 201). This is because the software that generates
the purchase documents can never print an incomplete form.
Id. The software also cannot print on a previously
signed, partially filled-in document. Id. Therefore,
Plaintiff's testimony that the rebate amount of $7,
826.00 was filled in on the contract necessarily requires
that the entire RISC was filled in. Id. at pg. 4
(Pg. ID 202).Wilson Andrew Roberts, Plaintiff's
salesperson in the RISC transaction, also provided a
statement. Mr. Roberts stated that Plaintiff “was
provided a complete and filled-in copy of all the purchase
documents for her review, including the . . . RISC.”
Dkt. No. 14-9, pg. 3 (Pg. ID 207).
circuits have considered what constitutes sufficient evidence
of compliance with the TILA. The Eighth Circuit has held that
an acknowledgement signed by the appellants that they
received a fully completed copy of the disclosure statement
was prima facie proof of delivery. Whitlock v. Midwest
Acceptance Corp., 575 F.2d 652, 653 (8th Cir. 1978). The
court continued to say that because there was prima facie
proof, the appellants could not rely on the allegation in
their complaint that they did not receive disclosures before
they signed the contract. Id. The appellants had to
have more evidence in support of their allegation.
Id. The appellants did not offer any support for
their allegations by affidavit or deposition. Id.
Therefore, the district court was correct in granting summary
judgment. Id. In this case, Plaintiff also signed an
acknowledgement that she received a fully completed copy of
the disclosure statement. However, unlike the appellants in
Whitlock, Plaintiff did provide evidence other than
the allegations in her complaint to support her allegation.
Plaintiff provided the deposition testimony that the RISC was
mostly blank, except for the rebate provision, at the time
that she signed it. Plaintiff has more evidence than just the
allegations in her complaint. Therefore, she can survive
summary judgment, unlike the appellants in Whitlock.
Eastern District of Michigan has held that a signed
acknowledgement of delivery, together with an RISC that
outlined all the requisite disclosures, complied with the
TILA. Jackson v. Telegraph Chrysler Jeep, Inc., No.
07-10489, 2009 WL 928224, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 31, 2009).
The plaintiffs in Jackson alleged that their
contract contained a hidden finance charge because the
defendants did not disclose the market value of the car
plaintiffs were buying. Id. The market price of the
car differed from the cash price the defendants listed on the
contract. Id. Here, the Plaintiff is alleging that
she did not receive any disclosures because she signed a
blank contract. This is unlike the plaintiffs in
Jackson, who did not allege that they failed to
receive any TILA disclosures before signing their contract.
The Jackson court did not have to consider testimony
from the plaintiffs alleging that they signed a blank
document. Therefore, the Jackson holding is not
clearly analogous to the present case such that this Court
can grant summary judgment.
Eastern District of Virginia considered a similar issue in
Harper v. Lindsay Chevrolet Oldsmobile, LLC. 212
F.Supp.2d 582, 587 (E.D. Va. 2002). In Harper, the
plaintiff alleged TILA violations, arguing that she did not
receive the required disclosures before she became
contractually obligated to the defendant for the purchase of
a car. Id. Plaintiff signed a disclosure document
that stated she had read the retail installment contract,
completely filled in. Id. The disclosure document
also acknowledged that the plaintiff received the disclosure
before the retail installment contract and the disclosure was
completely filled in before she signed it. Id. Thus,
the court held that the plaintiff had acknowledged in the
contract documents that she had an adequate opportunity to
review the retail installment contract before signing it.
Id. The court also noted that in the plaintiff's
deposition, she stated that the sales representative
explained certain portions of the retail installment contract
with her, like the “Itemization of Amount
Financed” section. Id. Therefore, the court
held that the record was uncontradicted in reflecting that
plaintiff was shown the required TILA disclosures in writing
before she signed the contract. Id.
case, Plaintiff also signed a disclosure statement stating
that she had received a copy of the RISC, and that the RISC
was completely filled in before she signed it. However,
Plaintiff's deposition did not acknowledge that Defendant
Dealer had explained portions of the RISC to her as it
presently appears. Plaintiff stated in her deposition that
Mr. Roberts explained the deal to her, but it was a different
deal than what the filled-in RISC currently looks like. Dkt.
No. 18-1, pg. 11 (Pg. ID 424). The only thing Mr. Roberts
pointed out to Plaintiff on ...