January 19, 2010

TCA overturns trial court ruling regarding TCPA


A finance company that owned a security interest in a Hyundai excavator appeals the award of a judgment against it in favor of a consumer for violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The consumer alleged in his complaint that the creditor and the equipment company that sold the excavator to the consumer had engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices, because the excavator was defective when it was delivered, it never worked properly, and the defendants failed to make repairs and refused to permit him to trade for another excavator. The financing company denied any wrongdoing and asserted the one-year statute of limitations as an affirmative defense. The equipment company that sold the excavator went out of business and dissolved prior to trial. The only claim tried was the consumer's TCPA claim against the finance company.

The trial court denied the finance company's Tenn. R. Civ. P. 50.01 motion for a directed verdict on the statute of limitations defense, finding that the TCPA claim was timely filed within the five-year statute of repose. At the conclusion of the jury trial, the consumer prevailed on his TCPA claim and the trial court awarded treble damages and attorneys' fees based on a finding the finance company "willfully and knowingly" violated the TCPA. We have determined the TCPA claim was barred by the one-year statute of limitations; therefore, the trial court erred in denying the motion for a directed verdict, and the judgment of the trial court is reversed.

The full text of this opinion may be found on the TBA website at: