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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

North Dakota Supreme Court dismisses appeal by woman whose car was repossessed

By Dee Thompson | Oct 11, 2017

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BISMARCK, N.D. (Legal Newsline) – The North Dakota Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of a woman who filed a class action lawsuit after her car was repossessed in 2007.

Darilyn Baker filed an appeal of the partial summary judgment in her class action against Autos Inc., Robert Opperude, James Hendershot, RW Enterprises Inc. and Randy Westby.

According to the court decision, Baker purchased a car from Autos Inc. in 2007 after signing a sales contract. After she failed to make several payments, the car was repossessed, the court stated. 

The loan was assigned to RW Enterprises before the default. After the repossession, Baker sued Autos and RW “alleging they failed to comply with state statutory requirements for retail installment sales contracts and violated state usury laws. Baker moved to certify her action as a class action for all purchasers of cars from Autos who may have suffered an injury as a result of the defendants' business practices,” according to the Supreme Court's Sept. 20 decision. 

The district court granted partial summary judgment for Baker and ruled class members who paid a $25 fee on late payments under their sales contracts were entitled to a refund. 

However, “The court reserved ruling on which defendant was liable for repayment of that late fee and whether the charging of excessive late fees invoked statutory sanctions for violating laws pertaining to the requirements for retail installment sales contracts, for regulated lender status, and for state usury laws,” according to the Supreme Court decision.

Under the ruling of the partial summary judgment, it was decided that there were still issues outstanding, such as the identification of class members and the liability of the individual defendants.

However, in the findings of the North Dakota Supreme Court, justices Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Jon J. Jensen, Jerod E. Tufte, Gerald W. VandeWalle ruled that the district court should not have certified the partial summary judgment as final, vacated that judgment, dismissed the appeal, and noted, “The parties have not demonstrated how the issue about applicability of state usury law to a class action elevates this case to the level of an extraordinary circumstance involving undue hardship to satisfy the requirement for the infrequent harsh case warranting our immediate review of the issue.”

The attorneys involved failed to respond to a Legal Newsline request for comments on the ruling.

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