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Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

by Mazur, Catherine


AC38608McLeod v. A Better Way Wholesale Autos, Inc. (Fraud; "In this action for damages arising out of the purchase of a used automobile, the defendant, A Better Way Wholesale Autos, Inc., appeals, following a trial to the court, from the judgment rendered in favor of the plaintiff, Brenda McLeod, on counts one through four of her six count complaint. Counts one through four alleged, respectively, that the defendant breached the implied warranty of merchantability, violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty-Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act (Magnuson-Moss Act), 15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq., breached an express statutory warranty, and committed common-law fraud. In total, the court awarded the plaintiff $5435 in actual damages, $15,000 in punitive damages, and $7045.35 in attorney's fees. The defendant claims on appeal that the court improperly (1) determined that the defendant had breached the implied warranty of merchantability as alleged in count one because that count previously had been dismissed along with counts five and six at the close of the plaintiff's case-in-chief pursuant to Practice Book § 15-8; (2) determined that the defendant had violated 15 U.S.C. § 2310 (d) of the Magnuson-Moss Act, despite the plaintiff's having pleaded that the alleged violation arose from the defendant's breach of the implied warranty of merchantability as alleged in count one, which the court had dismissed because the plaintiff had failed to establish a prima facie case; (3) awarded the plaintiff attorney's fees; (4) determined that the defendant committed common-law fraud without clear and convincing evidence of either a false statement or intent to defraud; and (5) awarded the plaintiff punitive damages on the fraud count. We agree with the defendant as to all but the fourth claim and, accordingly, reverse in part the judgment of the court and remand the case with direction to render judgment in accordance with this opinion and for a new hearing in damages. We otherwise affirm the court's judgment.")