Hibschman Pontiac, Inc. v. Batchelor

266 Ind. 310, 362 N.E.2d 845 (1977)

 

RULE:

Punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages whenever the elements of fraud, malice, gross negligence or oppression mingle in the controversy

FACTS:

The purchaser bought a used car from the car dealership. The car had a warranty and required extensive repair work, with the problem never being rectified. After the warranty ended the purchaser was forced to pay for additional repairs to the car. The purchaser sued the car dealership and car company for breach of contract and oppressive conduct. A judgment was entered for the purchaser against the car dealership and the car company. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the award of punitive damages and the purchaser sought review. 

ISSUE:

Was the purchaser entitled to punitive damages?

ANSWER:

Yes

CONCLUSION:

The court held that the purchaser was entitled to punitive damages because the acts of the car dealership and the car company constituted not only breach of contract, but fraud, malice, gross negligence or oppression. The court ruled, however, that the amount of the punitive damage award was excessive at first blush because it appeared to be outrageous and excessive. The court therefore remanded the matter for remittitur or a new trial.

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