When Priority Chevrolet of Chesapeake, Va., mistakenly sold Danny Sawyer a new Chevrolet Traverse for less than it had intended, the dealership tried to get Sawyer to sign a new, more expensive contract. When Sawyer refused, the dealership’s staffers reportedly called police and had him arrested, accusing him of stealing the vehicle.
The charges were ultimately dropped, but Sawyer, a 40-year-old registered nurse from Chesapeake, Va., has filed a $2.2 million lawsuit, the Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported.
Dennis Ellmer, the president of the dealership, last week acknowledged his staffers erred, first when they undersold the car and then when they reported Sawyer to the authorities.
“I owe Mr. Sawyer a big apology,” Ellmer told the Virginian-Pilot last week.
Ellmer, Sawyer and Sawyer’s attorney, Rebecca Colaw, did not return messages left for them today by ABC News.
According to the lawsuit, a copy of which was posted on the Virginian-Pilot’s website, Sawyer went to the dealership on May 7 and traded in his 2008 Saturn Vue for a black 2012 Chevrolet Traverse, though he came back to the dealer the next morning to exchange the black Traverse for a blue one instead.
Sales manager Wib Davenport agreed to cancel the sale on the black SUV and sell Sawyer the blue Traverse, the suit said, adding that the contract price on the blue 2012 SUV was $33,957.55.
Sawyer took the car home later that day and left for a cruise the following day. When he returned from vacation on May 15, he had numerous voicemail messages from the dealer’s staffers on his home and work phones, as well as a letter in his mailbox from Davenport, the suit claimed.
When he spoke with Davenport, the manager told him that the staff had made a mistake in the contract and the blue Traverse was worth more, the suit said. According to the Virginian-Pilot, the blue Traverse should have sold for about $39,000.
The suit claims Davenport asked Sawyer to come in and sign a new contract reflecting the corrected price. Sawyer declined, saying he had already paid in full.
According to the suit, the dealer’s staff continued to call Sawyer’s home and job for several weeks after, and on June 15, police came to Sawyer’s home and arrested him. He was held for four hours before being released on bond. Having no car, Sawyer had to walk the five miles to his home.
The suit also claimed that Davenport continued to ask Sawyer to sign a new contract even after the charges were dropped.
Among other things, Sawyer’s lawsuit alleged malicious prosecution, slander, defamation, abuse of process, negligence and fraud.
As a result of his experience, Sawyer has suffered emotional distress, shame, loss of reputation, sleeplessness, nightmares, fear of arrest and other consequences, the court papers added.