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Bill McCurley Chevrolet Inc. v. Rutz

April 25, 1991

BILL MCCURLEY CHEVROLET, INC., RESPONDENT,
v.
NORMAN RUTZ, ET AL, APPELLANTS



Green, C.j. Thompson and Shields, JJ., concur.

Author: Green

Bill McCurley Chevrolet, Inc., brought this action against Rebecca Rutz and her parents, Norman and Roxanna Rutz, to recover $7,511 for repairs to a 1987 Chevrolet Camaro. McCurley Chevrolet was awarded $3,657.24. The Rutzes appeal.

One issue is presented: Did the court err by denying the Rutzes' motion to set aside the verdict and award them attorney fees based on violations of the Automotive Repair Act, RCW 46.71, and the Consumer Protection Act, RCW 19.86? We find no error and affirm.

On April 14, 1987, McCurley Chevrolet sold the Camaro to Ms. Rutz.*fn1 On April 18, Ms. Rutz was involved in a collision that caused substantial damage to the car. With the consent of Ms. Rutz and her insurance carrier, the vehicle was towed to McCurley Chevrolet to estimate the costs of repair. Although Ms. Rutz requested a written estimate of costs, the written estimate was given to the insurance carrier, who then authorized the repair work. Her father kept abreast of the repair work as it proceeded by visiting the McCurley Chevrolet repair shop at least once a week. By June the work was completed and the car was released to

Ms. Rutz. The insurance carrier issued a check to Ms. Rutz and McCurley Chevrolet for the costs of repair in the amount of $7,114.48. After she and her father drove the car, they were not satisfied with the work and brought it back to McCurley Chevrolet. This occurred numerous times until November. During this time, McCurley Chevrolet demanded payment and finally in November told the Rutzes unless payment was forthcoming it would keep possession of the car the next time it was returned. Ms. Rutz decided not to bring it back under those conditions.

McCurley Chevrolet brought this action to collect for the repairs. The Rutzes claimed the work was unsatisfactory and tendered the insurance check to the court. The jury awarded McCurley Chevrolet $3,657.24. This appeal followed.

First, the Rutzes contend McCurley Chevrolet failed to comply with the provisions of the Automotive Repair Act, RCW 46.71.040, which requires a written estimate of the repair costs be given the customer prior to commencing the work. Consequently, they claim the matter should have been dismissed. We disagree.

RCW 46.71.040 provides in part:

(1) If the price of the automotive repairs is estimated to exceed seventy-five dollars and the repairman chooses to preserve any right to assert a possessory or chattel lien or if the customer requests a written price estimate, the automotive repairman shall, prior to the commencement of supplying any parts or the performance of any labor, provide the customer a written price estimate or the following choice of estimate alternatives:

A violation of this act constitutes a violation of the Consumer Protection Act. RCW 46.71.070.

The Automotive Repair Act is a consumer protection statute designed to foster fair dealing and to eliminate misunderstandings in a trade replete with frequent instances of unscrupulous conduct. I-5 Truck Sales & Serv. Co. v. Underwood, 32 Wash. App. 4, 11, 645 P.2d 716, review denied, 97 Wash. 2d 1033 (1982). The ...


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