In SunTrust Bank v. Monroe, 2018 WL 651198, at *14 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth, 2018), the Texas Court of Appeals affirmed a jury’s finding that an auto finance company did not dispose of a repossessed vehicle in a commercially reasonable fashion.
The jury here was instructed that every aspect of the disposition—method, manner, time, place, and other terms—had to be commercially reasonable, see Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 9.610(b), and we have already concluded that the jury had sufficient evidence upon which to determine—based upon the law as set forth in the unobjected-to charge by which it was bound—that SunTrust’s notice was not reasonable. Additionally, SunTrust presented little evidence to support its contention that the collateral’s sale was made in a commercially reasonable manner. Monroe testified that he had not received anything from SunTrust to tell him the time, date, place, or anything else about the sale or to show SunTrust’s other attempts to sell the vehicle; that he had not seen any documents about the actual sale; that he had looked at Kelly Blue Book’s retail value and NADA Black Book’s wholesale value, as well as online research, to reach his own valuation of $165,000 to $175,000; and that he was astounded that the vehicle had been sold for $115,000. As to the $38,000 in repossession expenses, Monroe testified that in his experience as a bail bondsman, this was higher than any repossession fee he had ever seen, although he acknowledged never having collateralized an Aston Martin when issuing a bond. Kelly, SunTrust’s officer, testified that it was common in the banking industry to use dealers like ADESA, an auction house in Dallas, to sell repossessed used vehicles. Through her, the trial court admitted into evidence “a complete pay history for the subject loan,” a one-sheet document entitled “ALS Purge Account System – Transaction Detail” from October 13, 2012 to October 17, 2013. Kelly did not explain what the “NO ACCT/CANNOT” entries meant or why the “REPO FEE” entries dated May 3, 2013 and May 10, 2013 were $176.19 and $750, respectively, but the “repossession expenses” in the November 2, 2013 explanation of the calculation of the deficiency were $38,942.30. Kelly stated that SunTrust had authorized repairs for the vehicle but did not elaborate on what those repairs were, why they were needed, or how much they had cost. While Kelly’s testimony may have provided some evidence of a commercially reasonable manner with regard to the “otherwise in conformity with reasonable commercial practices among dealers in the type of property that was the subject of the disposition” standard, see id. § 9.627(b), the jury was not obliged to believe her testimony. Compounded with the lack of any evidence for the jury’s fact-based inquiry to determine whether SunTrust endeavored to obtain the best price possible for the vehicle, the dichotomy between the jury instruction about a public sale and the notification for private sale, the time lapse between the notification and the sale, and the lack of evidence with regard to the state of the collateral and whether the expenses incurred in the sale were reasonable and necessary, we conclude that the jury could have reasonably determined that SunTrust did not dispose of the collateral in a commercially reasonable manner.