Virginia Supreme Court Reinstates Verdict in Classic Car Conversion Case

A judge said the issue was whether the part-owner of a paint shop wrongfully used the abandoned-vehicle process to sever ownership.

Image via Shutterstock.

The Supreme Court of Virginia reinstated a jury verdict in favor of Bryant McCants, whose 1970 Ford Mustang was wrongfully declared abandoned and sold by a repair shop owner. This decision comes after the Court of Appeals of Virginia had previously found the shop owner's actions were protected under Virginia’s abandoned-vehicle law.

According to Virginia Lawyers Weekly, the saga began when McCants entrusted his Mustang to Maaco Collision Repair and Auto Painting, where part-owner Hanson Butler oversaw the vehicle's repairs. After a series of misunderstandings and miscommunications, Butler used Virginia's abandoned-vehicle process to obtain the title to the Mustang and sold it.

The jury originally sided with McCants, awarding him $78,500 in compensatory damages, a verdict the Court of Appeals later overturned. However, the Supreme Court found substantial evidence supporting the jury's decision, noting discrepancies in Butler's claims and emphasizing the credibility judgments that juries are tasked with making.

Justice D. Arthur Kelsey, writing for the court, said the issue was whether Butler wrongfully used the abandoned-vehicle process to sever McCants's ownership rights, thereby converting the vehicle for his own use. The Supreme Court's scrutiny of the evidence and legal standards led to the reinstatement of the jury's verdict, affirming the vehicle was indeed wrongfully converted.

AkzoNobel Beta web graphic v2 600px

Shop & Product Showcase