When 21-year-old Jordan George of Eureka first saw the picture of “this Italian beauty” online, he knew, “She was the one, and only 9 hours away, in Fresno. It was love at first sight!”
Jordan imagined a future together, proudly showing her off to his friends, and together driving through one of California’s most beautiful regions.
And then one morning he could not awaken his love, and would soon be informed that her “dad,” Jasdeep Singh of Fresno, had neglected her terribly, not changing oil or performing other vital maintenance on the 2014 Maserati Ghibli he sold to this naive and trusting 21 year-old for $23,000.
As George still lives at home, his mom emailed me. A story of deceit became instantly clear. I have texts sent by Singh to George which are one of clearest examples of a seller misleading a buyer that I’ve ever seen. These texts reveal how Singh created an atmosphere of trust that George relied on.
‘Everything is perfect’
During their negotiations in the summer of 2020, Singh sent this text to George: “Everything is perfect. You don’t need to do anything.”
“A statement like that could constitute fraud or an express warranty if George had significant issues with the car shortly after taking possession, It would be good evidence the seller knew things were far from perfect at the time he made those statements,” Loyola Law Professor Brian Hull says, adding:
“The seller would be liable to pay for repairs or refund the buyer’s money.”
Within weeks of taking possession of the vehicle, George was quoted repair charges of more than $15,000, from Maserati of Marin, based on a laundry list of failures by the seller to properly maintain the vehicle.
But Singh dug a much deeper hole for himself, as you will see.
‘Has the car passed smog?’
In California, and a few other states, the seller has the legal obligation of providing a smog certificate. There are some exceptions, none of which apply here. Also, if a car does not pass smog requirements, the buyer can’t register it.
On June 28, 2020 at 1:45 p.m., George texted Singh, “Has the car passed smog?”
Singh replies, “Yes, everything done. Registration update smog done.”
After the sale was completed, Singh promised to send George the smog certificate and then admitted that he never had one, claiming it wasn’t necessary. That was false.
“If an exception does not apply and a vehicle is sold without a valid smog certificate, then the sale is illegal, void, unenforceable, subject to rescission and a refund of the buyer’s money,” attorney William N. Blasser of Claremont observes.
“But if the seller falsely claims to have had the vehicle smogged, and the buyer relies on that representation, this is fraud and unless the deal is promptly unwound, punitive damages could be awarded in a trial.”
I would add, given the loss of $23,000, criminal prosecution could not be ruled out.
When George discovered what had happened, he offered to return the car for a refund, only to be told, in so many words, “Tough! You bought a used car.”
This led his mom, Amy, to retain Eureka attorney, Bill Bertain who sent Singh a letter asking that this sale be rescinded and the money returned to George.
And this is where the case gets even more interesting, adding one more reason the reputation of lawyers in America is so low.
Singh retained Attorney Jason Crockford of Madera who replied in a letter which effectively said, “Pound sand. The answer is no. Your client could have had the car examined by a mechanic but did not, and I strenuously deny Jasdeep breached his duty to provide a smog certificate.”
Of course, not having the car examined by a mechanic is irrelevant to the smog certificate requirements of California law.
I spoke with Crockford and heard him gasp when informed of the smog texts. To his credit, he no longer represents Singh.
After that rejection, Bertain filed suit and Singh went on to hire Fresno attorney Jaskaran Gill.
What should happen?
As basic fairness requires giving all parties a chance to explain themselves, I repeatedly requested an interview with Gill’s client and was refused.
Lawyers want to believe their clients. But exposed to the light of objectivity, when it becomes clear a client has not been truthful and there is no merit to their position, to continue unjustified, expensive litigation exposes both the attorney and client to court-imposed, costly penalties.
Our job should be to help resolve disputes, not drag them out. No lawyer should ever forget that.
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.