It is true, while exotic sports cars can provide an owner great joy, they can also bring great suffering. Years ago while working as a law clerk I came across a memorable case involving a De Tomaso Pantera. I remembered it because of the subject matter and the Court's wry opinion.
The case involves the famous Ford Pantera of the early 70's. An Italian made, Argentinian designed, American powered, mid-engined exotic that was distributed by Ford in the U.S. through its Lincoln-Mercury Dealers.
The case is Lemaldi v. De Tomaso of Am., Inc., 156 N.J. Super. 441, 383 A.2d 1220 (Super. Ct. 1978) and involves a then new, self-purchased present for its owner, the Plaintiff, Mr. Lemaldi.
Mr. Lemaldi successfully made a claim and proved to a jury that an automobile manufacturer may be held liable for tortiously inflicting mental anguish.
The Plaintiff "convincingly recounted an unrebutted sequence of automotive horrors which commenced when he bought an expensive new sports car on the occasion of his birthday." The Judge went on to report there was "proof of two years in which plaintiff's $ 12,000 dream car became a nightmare of expense and breakdown." After awhile the Plaintiff had to buy another car to drive and his dream car was parked. The opinion provides, "The Pantera, beautiful but unusable, now rests in state in a carpeted garage."
The jury awarded Plaintiff $4,000 in damages for his repairs. Mental anquish damages (emotional pain and suffering) were also awarded in the amount of $8,000. It is worth mentioning, that the purchase price of the car was $12,000. I think it is safe to say the jury knew what they were doing and it was no coincidence their verdict of $12,000 in damages equaled the purchase price of Mr. Lemaldi's "dream" car!
Here is a magazine ad that car enthusiasts in 1971 must have found enticing.