Man Arrested for Accepting a Good Deal at Car Dealership

A customer is suing a Chevrolet dealership after it mistakenly sold him a car for $5,600 less than it should have--and then had him arrested for theft.

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Scott Olson / Getty Images

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. At least that’s what Danny Sawyer learned when a local Priority Chevrolet dealership mistakenly sold him an SUV for $5,600 less than its actual price — and then had him arrested for theft.

Sawyer is now suing the Chesapeake, Va. dealership for accusing him of stealing and ordering his arrest, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

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In the lawsuit, Sawyer, 40, claims he bought a black Chevrolet Traverse and then returned it the next morning so he could get a blue one. The sales manager agreed to the trade and allegedly did not explain that the blue version would cost more. Sawyer signed a contract to buy the blue vehicle for $34,000 when it should have sold for closer to $39,000, CBS News reported.

Sawyer says he was bombarded with voice messages and letters from the dealership a week later, because the sales manager admitted he made an error and wanted Sawyer to sign a new, adjusted contract. When Sawyer refused, the dealership tried talking with him again before filing a police report alleging that the SUV had been stolen. One June 15, Sawyer was arrested outside his house and spent four hours in jail before being released on bond, the Virginian-Pilot says.

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Priority Chevrolet President Dennis Ellmer told the Virginian-Pilot on Wednesday that the dealership “definitely made a mistake.”

“I owe Mr. Sawyer a big apology,” Ellmer said to the Virginian-Pilot. “It is my plan to let him keep the $5,600 and to make Mr. Sawyer right. I can’t tell you how I plan to fix it, but it is my intention to make it right.”

Sawyer’s attorney told the newspaper that an apology is insufficient. Through two lawsuits, Sawyer is seeking $2.2 million in damages, in addition to attorney fees. The charges against Sawyer have been dropped, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

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400 comments
SmurphLin
SmurphLin

That is pretty awesome! I think it's funny that the original 5,000 dollars that it was going to cost the company ended up in around 2 million in court costs, etc.. hahaha. What a great story! 

Smurph Lin | http://www.morganalexander.net/

JamesWordsmith
JamesWordsmith

Go Sawyer!  Chevrolet and GM gave the American taxpayers the shaft of nearly $25 billion.  $2.2 million is a drop in the bucket.   Today is your day to win the "loottery".

Odysseus
Odysseus

I see a case for false imprisonment as well

RodneyHorne
RodneyHorne

Oddly enough, as wrong as it was that the dealership did what it did, nobody questions the ethics of the purchaser when the company called to explain to him that there was an error.  I would not be happy at the dealership, but I would have still returned and either tried to renegotiate a middle ground, or have them do a vehicle search for a blue one at the same price, or they would lose my business.  I find it deplorable at how many people on here think that it was perfectly morally acceptable to take advantage of a human error.  This is why this country will continue in its downfall, as everybody continues to look out for number one, and have no ethical problems with taking advantage of others for personal gain.  Pitiful.

BrianW.Allan
BrianW.Allan

I hope he gets every penny of his law suite.  Very poor PR for dealership!

KateGallagher
KateGallagher

I like this one, I can not wait to hear how much this guy gets.

sucorazon20101
sucorazon20101

Most screwed up folks live in Florida,Virginia,West Virginia then you can ever imagine.

MattJohnson
MattJohnson

Whoever called the police and reported the car stolen should be charged with filing a false police report. Award the guy the 2.2 mil also.

5_2blue
5_2blue

It wouldn't be any more legal to put the sales mgr in jail than it was to put the man in jail, so that's not really an option here. He's suing for $2.2 million. It's not likely that he will get that but you have to have a starting point to negotiate.

5_2blue
5_2blue

tkpaste, What would you want if I accidentally sold you something for the wrong price that you have a legal contract for and was not inherently different (color only), then filed theft charges against you, had you thrown in jail and you had to hire an atty to straighten the whole thing out? You now have a record whether the charges are dropped or not. Of, right, "I'm sorry sir/mam". 

lvnative57
lvnative57

Pure abuse of the Legal system on the part of a low life Dealership... 2.2 million isn't enough, I'd shoot for $100 million for the damage to his reputation and let them haggle that down! LOSERS!

FyshGrrL
FyshGrrL

$2.2m might be a bit excessive, but I'd say this guy definitely deserves some compensation for being arrested, jailed, etc.  The dealership also needs some SERIOUS attitude adjustment in their customer service, which a good dose of punitive damages is DESIGNED by the legal system to provide.  This guy IS going to have an arrest record even if the dealer ultimately dropped the charges - that doesn't just disappear, and it is something he will have to explain for YEARS.  And it's a felony to boot.  He's got legal fees to pay (and he'll have them in the future dealing with this idiocy) - I think he's doing EXACTLY the right thing suing.  Who knows? Maybe $2.2 million is what it's really going to cost him over time.  It can be really surprising how expensive a stupid thing can cost when one has to deal with its effects on credit, reputation, career, etc. for 30 years or so!

pbug56
pbug56

Maybe that dealership is now due a new owner!

bzelbub
bzelbub

BLUE !!! 

You have to pay more for BLUE ???

What does it do that Black doesn't. Does the color really make that big of a difference ??  What heck have I been paying extra for all my life because of color.??

Chris Geirman
Chris Geirman

Interesting story... what was the dealership thinking when they had him arrested?! LOL. Someone should get fired for that move. Still, 2.2 million in damages? That's a bit... err... frivolous! 

houndog2g
houndog2g

Two stupids don't make a right! The dealership was totally wrong to punish the customer for a mistake they made. But $2.2 million???? Please!! Take the apology and your truck and shut up already!

Ryan McDonald
Ryan McDonald

Why is it that the $2.2m lawsuit bothers me more than anything else?  The litigious nature of our society is gross....

tkpaste
tkpaste

$2.2 million for 4 hours in jail?

If he wasn't a crook before, he sure is now.

He was given the $5,600 mistake.

He received a deserved apology.

Put the sales manager in jail for 4 hours amp; call it even.

tkpaste
tkpaste

$2.2 million for 4 hours in jail?

If he wasn't a crook before, he is now.

He was given the $5,600 mistake, given a deserved apology.Put the sales manager in jail for 4 hours amp; call it even.

tkpaste
tkpaste

$2.2 million for 4 hours in jail?  

If he wasn't a crook before, he sure is now.

He's already been granted the $5,600 mistake with a deserved apology.Put the sales manager in jail for 4 hours amp; call it even.

tkpaste
tkpaste

Sawyer wasn't a crook before he decided to sue for $2.2 million over a $5,600 mistake, already given in his favor, along with an apology rightly owed.  

He is now.$2.2 million for 4 hours in jail?

How about put the sales manager in jail for 4 hours amp; call it even?

FarmFamily
FarmFamily

The dealership signed the contract then they try to blame the guy and have him arrested because they made a mistake. Outrageous! I think $2.2 million is a little over the top. But they should give him the car for free.

katnipfanz
katnipfanz

Hmmm, I would say the car dealership should GIVE him the car amp; hope he drops the lawsuit.  I definitely think the customer has an excellent case for false arrest amp; I would bet a jury would agree.  That dealership should do "everything' to make this right or else it will cost a lot more than $39,000.

tom ambrosia
tom ambrosia

Cannot understand the Cops.

The man had a legit signed contract for the vehicle

Dealership could not release it without one right.

Yes Sir Sue the dealership and Chevrolet should revoke the dealers license.

As for the cops, something should be done to help educate the cops on a bit of contract law!

vadulak
vadulak

So, is there a Sales Manager position open @ Priority Chevrolet?

Dan Pieniak
Dan Pieniak

YES... What the heck was up with the police getting involved in this stupid mess,  created by the dealership. They made a big boo boo.... and they should suffer. And with all the dealer incentives and discounts given by the car company, the truck probably is worth only $34,000. I have no sympathy for any car dealer or salesperson p- they are all out to cheat you.....

theraven71
theraven71

They should throw the guy that filed the police report in jail along with the cops that arrested him.  The guy should be charged with filing a false police report and the cops should be charged with gross incompetence! 

Matthew Schwenk
Matthew Schwenk

2.2 million really isn't that much money. Especially since it is very possible that a large part of that will be eaten away by attorney fees, as well as the expungement process. It is very difficult to get things removed from an arrest record, and is not a guaranteed process.

Plus his career requires him to have a clean record.

Matthew Schwenk
Matthew Schwenk

 Supposedly the salesman also told the guy it was 34k. He not only signed for the 34k, but was told the vehicle cost that much. Technically, its not even an underpay situation because the 34k was the quoted price for the new blue vehicle.

Matthew Schwenk
Matthew Schwenk

 That isn't how lawsuits work. You pretty much have to sue for an outrageous amount in order to get a reasonable one. If he sued for 10 k, the judge would whittle it down to about 5k. If he sues for 2.2 million, they will probably whittle it down somewhere around your 7x figure.

Matthew Schwenk
Matthew Schwenk

You don't know how lawsuits work, do you? Moreover, that is not what he is suing for. The arrest was only part of the real story. After the arrest the dealership followed the guy around, using OnStar's ability to track the vehicle. They apparently threatened him numerous times, all the while he could not drive the vehicle.

Matthew Schwenk
Matthew Schwenk

 What greedy behavior? Would you pay the extra money if the sales guy tells you a car is 34k, then you sign and pay the 34k minus trade in, then the dealership calls you later and says, we want more money?

If you are referring to the lawsuit, then you don't know how lawsuits work. You give a really high ammount and work your way down.

I

Matthew Schwenk
Matthew Schwenk

 Doesn't work that way in Virginia. Plus the sales guy told him at the time the cost of the vehicle. It wasn't simply the paperwork that was wrong, but the initial quote was too.

Matthew Schwenk
Matthew Schwenk

 He didn't disagree with you. He simply stated what the dealership employee swore to the magistrate in order to get the arrest warrant. Basically, the guy paid cash, the dealership employe lied and said the guy simply drove the car of the lot.

Matthew Schwenk
Matthew Schwenk

He didn't get a luxury package. Also the salesman stated that the blue vehicle was the same price, then wrote up the paperwork. He paid the price that was quoted and agreed to. This wasn't a mistake by the dealership - it was fraud. Guess what? He is suing for fraud.

Matthew Schwenk
Matthew Schwenk

 know how I know you don't know how the legal system works?

Matthew Schwenk
Matthew Schwenk

 No there was not a lien. The buyer paid the full amount minus trade in. The owner of the dealership claims to have no knowledge of the arrest warrant or  police report until after the fact. Seems like one of his employees was trying to cover up a mistake.

Matthew Schwenk
Matthew Schwenk

 They arrested him on a warrant. The police don't have a choice in that matter. They went to his house with an arrest warrant.

pamela.reads
pamela.reads

@RodneyHorne  - No, it really doesn't work that way. Buying a car is a time consuming process and often there is another vehicle traded in, etc, etc. That the dealership made this kind of mistake is their issue, not the buyers. Honestly, that they would call him and ask him to provide more money is unethical. He got a good deal and they need to learn from the mistake. It's like buying something on sale and then you get a call at home telling you they discounted it too much. It's not real life. Plus, that they went so far as to have him arrested?

JulieCochrane
JulieCochrane

@5_2blue Yes. He might come down a bit from the $2.2 million, but he'll have to go talk to his manager first.

texansis
texansis

@Chris Geirman It's really not frivolous - that arrest stays on his record forever and can affect his ability to get a job or a security clearance!

SwiftrightRight
SwiftrightRight

@houndog2g Becuase getting picked up by the cops in front of your entire neighborhood and tossed in jail is no biggie amirite?

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@houndog2g So, he should be fine with an arrest record and his mug shot, fingerprints and DNA in the system for something the Dealership screwed up?  

Interesting worldview you have there.

SwiftrightRight
SwiftrightRight

@Ryan McDonald Well the fact that the legal system is totally and completely biased against flesh and blood citizens kind of forces us to use the civil system to defend our self's making sure that companies know that when they pull this crap they will be severally punished.

JungleBoiTee
JungleBoiTee

@tkpaste Nah.  eye for an eye and everyone's blind.  He compensated for the emotional pain and suffering.  Let's reserve judgement until we see what is awarded.

davecu41
davecu41

@tkpaste  

Now expunge his arrest record and make THAT go away!

SueS
SueS

@vadulak LOL! anybody need a job?!

G-man
G-man

@Dan Pieniak   This is a good one against the dealership, you guys should know how bad this big dealerships rip people off every single day without any conciusness, i have witnessed some real bad deals where the poor customers end up paying about 3 times what the vehicle is worth you give the dealership a chance to rip you off and they do it, then why not take this chance that the dealership is giving to this guy to get at them?  He did not steal the vehicle and a week went by, just try to undo a deal with any dealership after just 72 straight hours have past by and see what happens, anyways I work at a small used car dealership and I think this guy is doing the right thing, we as sales people cannot have anybody arrested for our own mistakes.