Mar 13, 2012

Man with Dementia Buys $62,000 Car, Car Dealer Won't Take it Back

Do you think the car dealer should have taken the car back when he learned the buyer was suffering from dementia? Or, do you think a deal is a deal? Could it happen to you?

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Man with Dementia Buys $62,000 Car, Car Dealer Won't Take it Back
Nissan Murano
Amy Dowdall's garage
Imagine this, your husband, who you are now separated from, and who suffers from Lewy Body dementia, drives up to your home in a new $62,000 car.

The guy who sold the car to the husband, the salesman, is riding shot gun along with the buyer.

When informed that the car buyer is living with dementia, and is not even supposed to be driving (yes, he drove himself to the car dealership), the salesman does nothing.

Well he did do something, he told Amy Dowdall, there was nothing he could do about the sale because it was already completed. In other words, its too late, he owns the car, tough apples.

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I suppose the salesman was thinking about his commission on the sale of the car. One can only assume it was one of the best sales he ever made. The car was loaded with $10,000 in extras, and the buyer did not negotiate the sale price. Not that you would expect a person in a state of dementia to be a very good negotiator.

At this point you might be thinking, easy enough, once the dealer learns about this situation he will take the car back. Guess again. The car dealership owner refused to take the car back.

Amy Dowdall did have standing here, she has power of attorney over her husband's finances.

It didn't matter, the husband was on the hook for a $923 a month car payment.

Subsequently, the owner of the dealership told Dowdall's attorney that Wells Fargo, who held the loan on the car, had offered a settlement. When Dowdall called Wells Fargo she was told there was no record of any settlement.

You must be thinking to yourself, well there must be a law that covers situations like this one. Well, kinda sorta. Under California law, anyone with an unsound mind cannot enter into a contract. So that cancels the deal correct?

Not exactly.

Richard Hechler, an elder abuse attorney, described the case as a “gray” one.
“If this guy wasn't declared incompetent, he had the right to do whatever he wanted,” he said
The patients doctor in a formal letter wrote that Dowdell suffers from
“markedly impaired judgment, lack of impulse control, aggressive and compulsive behavior and an almost total lack of insight into his condition”

It is March and the issue has not been resolved. The car was purchased in December.

Here is a bit of irony. On the day the car was purchased Dowdall and the brother of the car buyer were meeting to discuss long term care options. The patient is currently at the Acute Psychiatric Ward of the Jewish Home in San Francisco.

It will be interesting to see what happens if this story gets some local traction.

  • Will the car dealership owner regret not taking action to resolve this problem if he sees film of his dealership on the evening news?
  • If you learned that a car dealer in your area allowed this situation to continue, would you buy a car from that dealer?
  • Do you think this qualifies as elder abuse?
  • Do you think we need news laws that specifically cover persons that have been diagnosed with dementia?
  • Could something like this happen to you? Or, has it?

Use the Add New Comment box below to tell us your reaction, or what you think about this situation.

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