In Fasusi v. Washington Motorcars, Inc., 2018 WL 4896722, at *1 (E.D.Va., 2018), Judge Brinkema issued a default judgment against a car dealer after discovery sanctions were awarded, the dealer’s bankruptcy was dismissed, and the dealer’s counsel withdrew.
In this civil action, plaintiff brings a variety of statutory and common law claims against defendant stemming from defendant’s alleged improper conduct in selling plaintiff a vehicle. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendant illegally charged plaintiff $5,680 for an aftermarket warranty/service contract despite placing an advertisement representing that the vehicle came with a warranty; that defendant induced plaintiff to trade in his previous vehicle and make a $6,000 down payment by telling him that he had been approved for financing; that defendant then failed to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles about the sale or sign the vehicle’s title over to plaintiff; that defendant repeatedly induced plaintiff to sign new documents to obtain financing, eventually signing a set of sale documents increasing the service charge from $599 to $4,250, increasing the Annual Percentage Rate from 16.99% to 24.09%, eliminating the Extended Service Contract, and removing the warranty; and that while defendant was engaging in this conduct, it refused to renew plaintiff’s temporary tags or provide permanent tags for the vehicle and threatened to have him arrested for stealing the vehicle (to which defendant retained title because it had not appropriately signed the title over to plaintiff). See id. at 1-2. As a result of this failure to provide plaintiff with the tags required for lawful operation of the car, plaintiff was unable to meet the driving requirement of his new job, from which he was fired. Id. at 7–8.
Judge Brinkema found that the Plaintiff had proved his damages as follows:
As to the TILA violation, the magistrate judge found that plaintiff had properly alleged actual damages in the amounts of $5,680, which represents what he paid for a warranty he was promised but did not receive, and $3,651, from the processing fee increase, for a total of $9,331.1 Id. at 7. In addition, plaintiff is entitled to $1,000 in statutory damages and attorney’s fees related to pursuing this claim. Id. at 8. As to plaintiff’s claim for damages from defendant’s violation of the FCRA, plaintiff was unable to establish actual damages, but the magistrate judge found that an award of $1,000 in statutory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages was appropriate. Id. 8–14 (discussing Saunders v. Branch Banking and Trust Co. of Va., 526 F.3d 142, 152–155 (4th Cir. 2008)). The Court agrees with that conclusion. For the defendant’s violation of the ECOA, plaintiff was again unable to establish actual damages, and the magistrate judge found that no further punitive damages were appropriate, id. at 14–16; however, he also found that plaintiff did establish that defendant’s fraudulent promise to provide the warranty caused plaintiff to lose his job, resulting in actual damage of $47,622.67 (comprised of the processing fee and lost wages). Id. at 18. As plaintiff cannot recover under both the VCPA and common law fraud, and because the VCPA entitles him to a larger recovery due to its treble damages provision for willful violations, the magistrate judge recommended finding plaintiff entitled to $47,622.67, trebled to $142,868.01 in actual and statutory damages, under the VCPA. Id. at 20. The magistrate judge recognized that the award of actual damages overlaps with respect to the award of damages under the TILA and the VCPA but found that “the duties owed to plaintiff under TILA and the VCPA are meaningfully different such that the overlapping damage awards compensate substantively distinct violations of plaintiff’s rights.” Id. at 21. The Court agrees. Accordingly, the Report is fully adopted and for the reasons stated above and in the Report, plaintiff’s Motion for Damages [Dkt. No. 50] is GRANTED IN PART, and it is hereby ORDERED that a default judgment in the total amount of $164,199.01, comprised of: $9,331 in actual damages and $1,000 in statutory damages for defendant’s violation of TILA; $1,000 in statutory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages for defendant’s violation of the FCRA; and $142,868.01 for defendant’s violation of the VCPA, be and is awarded in favor of plaintiff Joseph O. Fasusi against defendant Washington Motorcars, Inc.; and it is further