Fox Rothschild Successfully Defends Main Line Luxury Car Dealership in Consumer Protection Case

March 19, 2015 – Press Releases

A Fox Rothschild trial team of Adam G. Silverstein, Michael Menkowitz and Jason C. Manfrey recently successfully defended a Pennsylvania-based luxury car dealership against allegations that it violated the state consumer protection act and unfair trade practice law.

In the case, argued at the trial level before the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County and at the appellate level before the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, the buyer entered into a contract with Porsche of the Main Line to purchase a pre-owned 2009 Ferrari 599 GTB. The plaintiff buyer was aware that the car was to be obtained from a third-party and signed a purchase order with Porsche of the Main Line containing an “as-is no warranty” provision.

The car was delivered and inspected by the dealer, and the buyer took possession and drove off the lot to a Ferrari dealership, where he alleged an employee noticed alleged signs of damage to the car. The buyer returned to Porsche of the Main Line to discuss the findings and requested a full refund on the car. In lieu of a refund, the dealer offered an exchange for a car of the same value on the lot.

The buyer refused and brought suit against the dealer claiming, among other things, fraudulent representations by the dealer and violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL), Pennsylvania Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act. The buyer claimed that Porsche of the Main Line breached verbal representations regarding the condition of the Ferrari prior to the execution of the purchase order. The buyer also sought to hold Porsche of the Main Line’s sole shareholder liable for his claims.

Porsche of the Main Line filed preliminary objections to the buyer’s complaint seeking dismissal of the lawsuit based upon the as-is language of the purchase order, as well as an integration clause which precluded any claims of breach for representations not appearing in the purchase order. Porsche of the Main also demanded that the dealer’s sole shareholder be dismissed, as he was not a party to the purchase order. The Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County sustained the preliminary objections, and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The plaintiff buyer appealed. The Superior Court affirmed the dismissal, agreeing with the Fox team’s position that the existence of a fully integrated, written purchase order containing an “as-is” clause barred the buyer’s attempts to introduce evidence of pre-contract representations and also precluded a finding that the buyer “justifiably” relied on any such alleged representations.

Silverstein, chair of the firm’s Probate Litigation Group and office managing partner of the Warrington office, focuses his practice on a broad range of business-related litigation matters. He has extensive experience litigating matters involving sureties, trade secrets, restrictive covenants, and commercial lease disputes.

Menkowitz, co-chair of the firm’s Automotive Practice, managing partner of the firm’s Philadelphia office and immediate past chair of Fox’s Financial Restructuring and Bankruptcy Department, has extensive experience representing automobile dealers as general counsel, including the largest Mercedes-Benz dealership in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He has aided automotive clients with issues such as tax controversies - federal and state, including state sales tax disputes, labor and employment law and compliance issues - wage and hour, employment discrimination, OSHA, unemployment compensation, and employee policies and procedures, benefits - pension and profit-sharing plans, ESOPs and others, environmental matters, litigation, estate planning and real estate - including buying and selling of stores.

Manfrey, an associate with the firm, handles complex matters on behalf of automotive dealers in consumer and manufacturer based litigation as well as in transactions related to mergers and acquisitions, including the largest Porsche dealership in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.