Adesa Salt Lake: Auctioneer Liability for Bad Title

Our client bought a 2015 Lamborghini Huracan through Adesa’s auction services for $148,500.00. He drove home with Italian automotive engineering, but then the Salt Lake police knocked on his door and informed him that the Lamborghini—which he had purchased from Adesa had been stolen. Our client had two options: return the vehicle, or be prosecuted for receiving stolen goods. Of course, he returned the vehicle.

The title of the Lamborghini, as it turned out, was forged. It actually belonged to a corporation in Texas, but Adesa claimed it wasn’t their responsibility to clear title, or know whether the car was stolen. Adesa now asserts that their terms and conditions disclaim liability. Click the link here to see the formal complaint filed in federal court.

An auctioneer is strictly liable for selling converted property, whether applying state or federal law. See, e.g., United States v. Topeka Livestock Auction, Inc., 392 F. Supp. 944, 948 (N.D. Ind. 1975).  When selling property, an auctioneer has a responsibility to verify the viability of the goods or products being sold, and if they fail to do so, they are held responsible as though they themselves are the sellers of the stolen goods.  See First Nat. Bank of Amarillo v. Sw. Livestock, Inc., 859 F.2d 847, 850 (10th Cir. 1988); Quinn v. Morgan Stanley, No. 2:05-CV-00180 PGC, 2007 WL 9735870, at *10 (D. Utah June 1, 2007), aff’d sub nom. Quinn v. Nationwide Ins. Co., 281 F. App’x 771 (10th Cir. 2008).  Adesa sold a stolen vehicle, has received substantial evidence and proofs that it was stolen, and is now relying on terms and conditions buried in their website (which were not included on the actual signed contract) to get out of their responsibilities.

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Link to First Amended Complaint with Jury Order

Link to Exhibit C

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