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Williams v. Ford Motor Co.

(1982)

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit - 674 F.2d 717

tl;dr:

A repossession is lawful unless its imposes violence or a risk of violence.

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ICRAIssue, Conclusion, Rule, Analysis for Williams v. Ford Motor Co.

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Facts & HoldingWilliams v. Ford Motor Co. case brief facts & holding

Facts:The plaintiff and her husband had purchased a car from...

Holding:The court held that there was no breach of the...

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Williams v. Ford Motor Co. | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: BENSON, Chief Judge.
Level 1
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This is a diversity action where Cathy Williams is seeking damages for conversion due to an alleged wrongful repossession of her automobile. The car was financed through a Ford dealer and assigned to FMCC. After her divorce, the court granted Cathy title to the car and required her ex-husband to make payments to FMCC. However, he defaulted and signed a voluntary repossession authorization for FMCC. S & S was directed to repossess the car. Cathy saw the repossession taking place and informed Sappington, the president of S & S Recovery, Inc., that she was attempting to bring the payments up to date and that the car contained personal items that did not belong to her. Sappington retrieved the items and handed them to her. Cathy did not complain further and Sappington drove off with the car. Cathy reported the car as stolen and commenced this action. The judgment n. o. v. entered on motion of defendant FMCC is affirmed. FMCC’s appeal is thereby rendered moot. FMCC’s third party claim for indemnification against S & S is dismissed.

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Dissenting opinion, author: HEANEY, Circuit Judge
Level 1
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The dissenting judge in this case argues that the repossession of the appellant's car created a "risk of invoking violence," which constitutes a breach of peace. The trial jury found that it did and awarded $5,000 for conversion. The dissenting judge believes this determination was reasonable and disagrees with the court's decision to overturn it. The majority recognizes that the restriction on self-help repossession is in place to discourage extrajudicial acts that may result in violence. However, they hold that the confrontation in Williams' driveway did not create a risk of violence. The dissenting judge believes that the largely undisputed facts created a jury question and that the self-help limitation should require a directed verdict in favor of Ms. Williams, or at least not against her. The dissenting judge would reverse the trial court and reinstate the jury's verdict.

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