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Autovest, L.L.C v. Weatherly

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

March 21, 2019

AUTOVEST, L.L.C, Plaintiff,

          Submitted: November 27, 2018

          Patrick Scanlon, Esq. Attorney at Law Attorney for Plaintiff

          Reshina Weatherly Defendant Pro Se


          SMALLS, C.J.


         This is a consumer debt action brought on April 17, 2018, by Autovest L.L.C., ("Plaintiff) against Reshina Weatherly ("Defendant") alleging that Defendant failed to make required payments for a financed automobile. Plaintiff demands judgment in the amount of $6, 478.59, pre- and post-judgment interest at the legal rate, attorney's fees and costs.

         On June 12, 2018, Defendant filed an Answer denying the allegation involving the debt which resulted from a purchase of a 2007 Dodge Charger. Defendant argues the "Company, Teejay Enterprises, ("Teejay") gave her a new vehicle when the engine blew up in the 2007 Dodge Charger." Defendant avers she signed paperwork relieving her of responsibility for the 2007 Dodge Charger because they "sold her a lemon." Lastly, Defendant argues Teejay is responsible for the judgment.[1]

         On July 2, 2018, Plaintiff filed a pretrial worksheet attaching repossession documents and a bill of sale. On July 10, 2018, the case was referred to mediation which was unsuccessful.

         These matters proceeded to trial on November 27, 2018. Plaintiff called its first witness, Defendant Reshina Weatherly, who testified that she purchased a 2007 Dodge Charger from Teejay that malfunctioned shortly following the purchase. When she took the car back to Teejay, she was given a another vehicle, with a new contract.[2] Further, Defendant testified that when she returned the 2007 Dodge Charger to Teejay, she signed a new contract for the new vehicle. Defendant testified her assumption was that since she returned the 2007 Dodge Charger, there was no need to continue paying the amounts required under the prior contract and the payments for the replacement vehicle were being directly withdrawn from her account. Further, Defendant testified she did not file an answer in response to the request for production because she did not receive the documents. However, she failed to provide the "new contract" from Teejay for the new vehicle. Defendant testified that she contacted Pelican Auto Finance, LLC. ("Pelican") when she received the lawsuit documents and informed them she returned the 2007 Dodge Charger to Teejay. Defendant claims that Teejay gave her paperwork stating Teejay would be responsible for the 2007 Dodge Charger loan, though she failed to provide any documentation at trial of this agreement. Additionally, Defendant testified when the engine blew up, she told Pelican that she had left the 2007 Dodge Charger with Teejay.

         Plaintiff introduced into evidence notice of repossession that was mailed to Defendant regarding the private sale of the 2007 Dodge Charger.[3] Defendant testified she never received this notice of repossession. Defendant stated she resides in Philadelphia and the address on the repossession document is an old Delaware address.

         Plaintiff called as its second witness their operations manager, Julie Allen ("Allen"), who testified she was the custodian of the business records. Plaintiff introduced into evidence Defendants signed Retail Installment Contract and Security Agreement with Teejay and Pelican.[4] Allen further testified as to Plaintiffs Exhibit 3; the Explanation of Deficiency.[5] Plaintiffs Exhibit 3 indicate an unpaid balance for the 2007 Dodge Charger in the amount of $7, 868.59. Allen testified her records indicate the 2007 Dodge Charger being abandoned at Teejay's shop, and subsequently repossessed and sold at auction. From the repossession sale of the vehicle, there is a credit in the amount of $1, 390.00, which leaves a deficiency balance of $6, 478.59. Further, Allen testified there is no record that either Teejay or Defendant paid this deficiency balance. In addition, there were no documents received that relieved Defendant from the debt.

         Lastly, Plaintiff introduced the Autovest Loan Comment Report detailing any communications and transactions between Plaintiff and Defendant.[6] Defendant objected that she never contacted Pelican and disagrees with any communications made to Plaintiff. Allen testified that when Pelican contacted Teejay, they told Pelican the vehicle was in their shop, it was abandoned, and they had made no repairs.


         During a trial, the Court sits as the trier of fact, therefore, it is the Court's responsibility to assess the credibility of the witnesses and, where there is a conflict in the testimony, to reconcile these conflicts, "if reasonably possible[, 1 so as to make one harmonious story."[7] In doing so, the Court takes into consideration the demeanor of the witnesses, their apparent fairness in giving their testimony, their opportunities in hearing and knowing the facts about which they testified, and any bias or interest they may have concerning the nature of the case.[8] In civil cases, the Plaintiff bears the burden to prove each element of its claim by ...

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