OPINION ISSUED DECEMBER 6, 1999
A & B SALES, INC.
DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES
J. D. Miller, Attorney at Law, for claimant.
Joy M. Cavallo, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
Claimant, formerly a West Virginia corporation in Ohio County,
brought this action to recover a financial loss it incurred when
respondent failed to indicate a lienholder on a certificate of
title for a motor vehicle. The Court is of the opinion to make an
award in this claim for the reasons more fully stated below.
In the ordinary course of business at respondent's Charleston
office, two forms must be received together in order to process a
certificate of title for a motor vehicle. The two forms are a
Division of Motor Vehicles Reassignment Supplement, form TM-5, and
an application for a certificate of title for a motor vehicle.
The Division of Motor Vehicles Reassignment Supplement is a
form used when there is a sale between dealers. When the sale is
retail, an application for a certificate of title for a motor
vehicle is necessary. After receiving the forms, respondent's
employees review and process both forms. To continue the
processing of the forms, the forms must contain the identical
information. If one of the forms is different from the other,
respondent's employees must seek clarification from the individuals
tendering the forms. If clarification is not made, the processing
of the certificate of title for the motor vehicle must stop and
desist. Once both forms contain the identical information, a
certificate of title can be issued for a motor vehicle.
On May 14, 1996, a customer of claimant bought a 1994 Ford
Taurus, VIN # 1FALP52U5RA109248. The title paperwork was completed
and sent by respondent on June 10, 1996. The necessary forms were
sent to respondent's Charleston office. Prior to this date,
claimant had been in contact with respondent regarding the title
process and had thereafter followed respondent's instructions.
However, only the Division of Motor Vehicles Reassignment
Supplement, WV417229, contained the lienholder information. When
the certificate of title paperwork was processed and the
certificate of title was issued, the lienholder information was not
placed on the certificate of title. Subsequently, on October 6,
1998, Household Automotive Financing Corporation, who bought out
OFL-A Receivables Corporation, attempted to repossess the vehicle
only to discover that the customer had already traded the vehicle
on a previous date. As a result of not being able to take
possession of the vehicle because the lienholder was not indicated
on the title, Household Automotive Financing Corporation required claimant to repurchase the vehicle loan through proceeds from
another transaction. The resulting financial loss to claimant was
in the amount of $9,013.17.
In this claim, respondent clearly failed to follow the proper
procedure for processing and issuing the certificate of title for
the motor vehicle. The failure of respondent's employees to
reasonably follow established rules and regulations for the
processing and issuance of a certificate of title for a motor
vehicle constitutes negligence for which claimant may recover.
Thus, the Court finds that the respondent was negligent in its
failure to indicate the lienholder information on the certificate
of title for the motor vehicle.
In view of the foregoing, the Court is of the opinion and does
make an award to the claimant in the amount of $9,013.17.
Award of $9,013.17.