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Posted

The president of Priority Chevrolet apologized Wednesday for the arrest of a customer in June whom the dealership mistakenly undercharged for an SUV and who resisted the company's efforts to get him to sign a new, costlier contract.

Dennis Ellmer said he's heard from Chesapeake police that one of his managers told an officer that Danny Sawyer of Chesapeake had stolen a 2012 Chevrolet Traverse.

"I owe Mr. Sawyer a big apology," said Ellmer, who manages the entire Priority Auto Group - which includes 11 dealerships in Virginia and North Carolina.

He said his staff erred when they sold the SUV to Sawyer for about $5,600 too little and erred again when they went to police. He said Sawyer should not have been arrested and definitely should not have spent four hours in jail.

"It is my plan to let him keep the $5,600 and to make Mr. Sawyer right. I can't tell you how I plan to fix it, but it is my intention to make it right," said Ellmer, adding that he would like to sit down and talk with Sawyer.

Rebecca Colaw, Sawyer's attorney, said she appreciates that Ellmer is taking responsibility for what happened. But she said he will have to do more than say he's sorry and let Sawyer keep the SUV.

"An apology is not enough," she said.

Earlier this month, Sawyer, 40, a registered nurse, filed two lawsuits against the dealership accusing it of malicious prosecution, slander, defamation and abuse of process, among other things. The lawsuits seek $2.2 million in damages, plus attorney fees.

Ellmer and his vice president, Stacy Cummings, said they were unaware of the lawsuits until they read about them Tuesday on the front page of The Virginian-Pilot. Two managers at Priority Chevrolet declined Monday to comment on the lawsuits, and two phone calls and an email to an attorney for the dealership were not returned.

According to the lawsuits, Sawyer test-drove a blue Chevrolet Traverse on May 7 but ultimately decided to buy a black one. He traded in his 2008 Saturn Vue, signed a promissory note and left in his new SUV.

The next morning, Sawyer returned and asked to exchange the black Traverse for the blue one.

The lawsuit claims Wib Davenport, a sales manager, agreed to the trade without discussing how much more the blue Traverse would cost. Cummings disputed that, saying Davenport told Sawyer it would cost about $5,500 more than the black one and that Sawyer orally agreed to the higher price.

Regardless, the final contract Sawyer signed did not reflect the higher price, which Cummings said should have been in the area of $39,000. He blamed a clerical error.

"We definitely made a mistake there. There is no doubt about it," said Ellmer.

After signing the contract - which listed a sale price of about $34,000 - Sawyer immediately left the dealership and returned with a cashier's check covering what he owed after dealer incentives and his trade-in.

A week later, Sawyer came back from a vacation to find numerous voicemails and a letter from the dealership, the suit said. In a phone conversation, Davenport explained they had made a mistake on the contract and sold the car for too little. He asked Sawyer to return to the dealership and sign a new contract.

The lawsuit claims Sawyer refused. Cummings said Sawyer initially agreed but never followed through.

When Sawyer did not return to the dealership, Priority staff continued their attempts to contact him via phone, text message and hand-delivered letters. They eventually contacted police.

On June 15, three Chesapeake police officers arrested Sawyer in his front yard and took him before a magistrate judge. He was released on bond after about four hours at the Chesapeake jail, the suit said.

Commonwealth's Attorney Nancy Parr said her office dropped all charges Aug. 23 after speaking with representatives of the dealership and determining there was insufficient evidence to pursue the case.

In an interview Tuesday, Ellmer and Cummings said their staff never reported the SUV stolen and never asked for Sawyer to be arrested. They said they called police only for help locating the SUV while they pursued the civil action.

After speaking with police Wednesday, however, Ellmer said he'd learned one of his managers, Brad Anderson, had indeed said the SUV was stolen.

Kelly O'Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the Chesapeake Police Department, said the officer told Anderson in advance he was going to secure a warrant for Sawyer's arrest.

Ellmer described what happened to Sawyer as an isolated incident. He noted that his dealerships sell about 13,000 cars a year.

"This shouldn't have happened," he said.

[url="http://hamptonroads.com/2012/09/dealership-apologizes-error-customer-arrest-0"]source[/url]

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Posted

OK so he is trying to screw them by orally accepting a higher price for a new colour, he gets away with it by not returning calls to follow up in writing, eventually he is allowed to keep the more expensive car without paying extra, and now he is suing them for 2.2 million dollars for 4 hours of his time. The dealership was trying to do him a customer service by letting him have the car before getting the paperwork together for the change of mind.

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Posted

[quote name='Simon-' timestamp='1349530889' post='595229705']
OK so he is trying to screw them by orally accepting a higher price for a new colour, he gets away with it by not returning calls to follow up in writing, eventually he is allowed to keep the more expensive car without paying extra, and now he is suing them for 2.2 million dollars for 4 hours of his time. The dealership was trying to do him a customer service by letting him have the car before getting the paperwork together for the change of mind.
[/quote]

If you read the news article you would see the final contract he signed did not have the higher price. In this case it was the dealerships fault and they should just let it go. If they sell 13k cars a year I'm sure eating this extra cost would be MUCH less than the bad press they are now getting.
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Posted

i have worked in a lot of dealerships and can say this guy worked the system. He is an opportunist as you can see with a 2.2 million lawsuit EVEN AFTER the dealership finally gave up. I fully believe they didn't want him arrested either but it happened. I would also say with great certainty that because of this: "[color=#282828]Sawyer immediately left the dealership and returned with a cashier's check"[/color] that he KNEW EXACTLY what he was doing since when you go through the dealership financing, they triple check all numbers to make sure no error has been made. He needed it to be done ASAP before anyone saw the error. It is the dealers fault for being fooled but it was the intention of the guy for sure.
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[quote name='Lexcyn' timestamp='1349531427' post='595229723']


If you read the news article you would see the final contract he signed did not have the higher price. In this case it was the dealerships fault and they should just let it go. If they sell 13k cars a year I'm sure eating this extra cost would be MUCH less than the bad press they are now getting.
[/quote]
They did let it go, and he is still sueing for 2.2 MIL

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Posted

I don't see the need for any arrest -- nothing was 'stolen' -- the dealership could have just filed a Civil case.

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Posted

The problem here is the dealership had him arrested. So this guy got picked up by police and spent hours in jail. Of course he should sue. Know how embarrassing that is for someone when it's not your fault?
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Posted

intentional fraud (under the premise of a good deal) is HIS fault.

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Posted

[quote name='briangw' timestamp='1349558310' post='595230441']
The problem here is the dealership had him arrested. So this guy got picked up by police and spent hours in jail. Of course he should sue. Know how embarrassing that is for someone when it's not your fault?
[/quote]

Embarassing? 100% correct

Worth a 2.2 millions lawsuit, or just a lawsuit for that matter? Absolutely not.

He spent a couple of hours there, not a week/month/whatever.
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Posted

I won't go over everything here since creating a detailed listing of the order of events would be a waste since the story already did that.

Long story short...guy bought a car for the price listed on the contract that the dealership wrote up. The dealership then called the police and reported the car stolen and had him arrested for it.

He's well within his rights to sue him.


Also if you read the story carefully the sales folks lied to the big boss when they stated that they didn't report it stolen since the police have verified that it was reported stolen.

So what makes you think the sales folks didn't also lie about having told him about the higher price? One thing you learn in the auto industry, don't trust the salesmen. They will find about every way they can to twist what they say in order to get the sale. I've had many friends and family work in car sales. I know better than to trust someone on the lot until it's in ink and signed.
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Posted

[quote name='FrancoisC' timestamp='1349558638' post='595230453']
Embarassing? 100% correct

Worth a 2.2 millions lawsuit, or just a lawsuit for that matter? Absolutely not.

He spent a couple of hours there, not a week/month/whatever.
[/quote]

You and I may agree but it's now up to a jury to decide. The dealership should have just accepted that they got taken. Now, they may pay for it.
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Posted

Haha, I've been to that dealership :p kinda funny seeing local news on nw.
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Posted

I was thinking that the arrest could affect his present job, and future job prospects -- hence the lawsuits.

[color=#008000][b]Barney[/b][/color] might be able to comment on this.
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Posted

[quote name='Hum' timestamp='1349564619' post='595230615']
I was thinking that the arrest could affect his present job, and future job prospects -- hence the lawsuits.

[color=#008000][b]Barney[/b][/color] might be able to comment on this.
[/quote]

He paid with cashier's check, so he can't be hurting too bad. Or at least it sounds like he paid the full amount.

That being said, he can easily get it removed from his record, if it even makes it on there at all.

I do agree with a lawsuit, but nothing NEAR that amount. Maybe a couple grand.

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Posted

He is well within his rights to sue the dealership for 2.2 million, I hope he wins.

Of course he knew what he was doing but he [b][u]LEGALLY PURCHASED[/u][/b] the vehicle and I don't believe the dealership
did not intend to have him arrested, of course they did. If the dealer principle is stupid enough to have stupid people work for him
then he deserves this, not to mention bad publicity where people will avoid doing business with that dealer.

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Posted

[quote name='rippleman' timestamp='1349531835' post='595229733']
I would also say with great certainty that because of this: "[color=#282828]Sawyer immediately left the dealership and returned with a cashier's check"[/color] that he KNEW EXACTLY what he was doing since when you go through the dealership financing
[/quote]
As opposed to what alternative? When I bought my car, I wrote the check immediately after signing the contract (they surprisingly didn't need a cashier's check). Was he supposed to linger, or joy ride without paying? It makes perfect sense that he would go and get the check for the appropriate amount once finalizing the contract.

He very well might be an opportunist, but everything about the story shows that the dealership lied about some pretty big things, including telling the police that the car was stolen. What's one more thing? I don't know anyone that trusts a car dealership, who widely known for the bait and switch.

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[quote name='Simon-' timestamp='1349530889' post='595229705']
OK so he is trying to screw them by orally accepting a higher price for a new colour, he gets away with it by not returning calls to follow up in writing, eventually he is allowed to keep the more expensive car without paying extra, and now he is suing them for 2.2 million dollars for 4 hours of his time. The dealership was trying to do him a customer service by letting him have the car before getting the paperwork together for the change of mind.
[/quote]

If someone had me falsely arrested because they were butthurt about screwing up, you'd be damn right I'd be taking them to court. They screwed up, and they screwed up big. IANAL but a contract works both ways. If the dealer suddenly asks that the customer return to the dealership and ask him to sign a modified contract, he's well within his rights to simply refuse the new terms, and the dealer has to deal with their mistake. To have someone falsely imprisoned for no reason other than to scare them into signing a less favourable contract is basically illegal, and I'd have no problem taking them to court to (a) make them pay for wasting police (and my) time, and (b) make an example of them to show that this kind of BS is not okay.
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Posted

I'd sue the dealership and I'd also look into suing the police for wrongful arrest. It seems bizarre that they would arrest him without even double checking the ownership of the car.

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Posted

[quote name='Majesticmerc' timestamp='1349568064' post='595230663']


If someone had me falsely arrested because they were butthurt about screwing up, you'd be damn right I'd be taking them to court. They screwed up, and they screwed up big. IANAL but a contract works both ways. If the dealer suddenly asks that the customer return to the dealership and ask him to sign a modified contract, he's well within his rights to simply refuse the new terms, and the dealer has to deal with their mistake. To have someone falsely imprisoned for no reason other than to scare them into signing a less favourable contract is basically illegal, and I'd have no problem taking them to court to (a) make them pay for wasting police (and my) time, and (b) make an example of them to show that this kind of BS is not okay.
[/quote]
I agree about his rights and suing for a false police report. But $2.2 million, really?

Future job prospects? No effect, he was not found guilty of anything and chargesnwere dropped.

If anything I would think that it WOULD be theft, because he has a signed written legal contract for Car A, but he has taken Car B which he has not and refuses to sign for. Either sign for Car B or return it to get Car A back or Car B is stolen.

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Posted

[quote name='Simon-' timestamp='1349569728' post='595230685']
I agree about his rights and suing for a false police report. But $2.2 million, really?

Future job prospects? No effect, he was not found guilty of anything and chargesnwere dropped.

If anything I would think that it WOULD be theft, because he has a signed written legal contract for Car A, but he has taken Car B which he has not and refuses to sign for. Either sign for Car B or return it to get Car A back or Car B is stolen.
[/quote]

2.2 million is perhaps a bit excessive, final settlement will likely be much less.

It does suggest in the article that the contract he signed was for the correct car, they just put the price for the wrong car on there.
[hr]
On a slightly related note. When I last upgraded my phone, I went to the T-Mobile store to collect, and expected to pay

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Posted

A lawsuit is understandable given the circumstances. Is what he went through worth $2.2m in damages? No, barely a fraction of that. And if the company offers reasonable compensation then the lawsuit should be dropped altogether. Lawsuits should seek to redress an injustice, not skew it in the opposite direction.

Both sides come out looking like scumbags. It's a pretty sick culture.

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Posted

Having read this I had two thoughts,

1: While 2.2 Million seems a bit too much, any company that would have someone falsely arrested needs to be taken to the cleaners. Let a just decide how much the guy should get (I'd probably give him the Jeep for free).

2: Why the [bleep] does it cost $5,600 for a different colour, I think whoever decided that is the real crook here.

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Posted

[quote name='Ghostdraconi' timestamp='1349572888' post='595230723']
2: Why the [bleep] does it cost $5,600 for a different colour, I think whoever decided that is the real crook here.
[/quote]

There are most likely other features beyond color.

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Posted

[quote name='FrancoisC' timestamp='1349558638' post='595230453']
Embarassing? 100% correct

Worth a 2.2 millions lawsuit, or just a lawsuit for that matter? Absolutely not.

He spent a couple of hours there, not a week/month/whatever.
[/quote]

Except you forget he signed a contract that was drawn up by the dealership that they both signed and the dealership had the nerve to arrest him? That sounds like a wrongful arrest type of lawsuit there.

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Posted

[url="http://netk.net.au/Confessions/Confessions23.asp"]A man falsely imprisoned for 22 years on rape and murder charges only gets $2 million[/url].

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