A woman in Michigan has filed a class action lawsuit over $29 of unreturned gas in her repossessed car. The lawsuit is seeking $5 million. Is she out of her ever-lovin’ mind? Is this just another frivolous class action lawsuit? Is her lawyer a complete opportunist? You be the judge.
The back story on this one is that Victoria Jean Church-Dellinger of White Lake, MI was apparently behind on payments for her leased 2008 Pontiac G6. So she defaulted and the lender, Ally Financial Inc., which The Detroit News reports is majority-owned by the US government, repossessed her car.
The car, however, still had a half-tank of gasoline in it when it was repossessed. (I’m guessing someone took photos of the fuel gauge and that there’s gas purchase receipts, odometer readings, and whatever else one would need to prove such was the case at the very moment the car was repossessed—though I can’t say gathering evidence would be the first thing I’d be thinking of when the tow truck showed up.)
Regardless, a quick trek over to fueleconomy.gov shows that the 2008 Pontiac G6 has a fuel tank capacity of 16 gallons. And according to ‘Today’s Regional Gas Prices’ over at AAA’s Fuel Cost Calculator, gas in Michigan is currently running about $3.68 per gallon—meaning that the alleged eight gallons of gas sitting in the repossessed Pontiac is worth $29.44.
Needless to say, Church-Dellinger must not be the only person in Michigan to whom this has happened in the past six years—i.e., having a car repossessed while there’s still leftover gas in the tank.
And therein lies the basis for the class action lawsuit. Or at least the ‘class’ members part of it. The lawsuit itself is apparently based on the argument that, as with all personal property within the repossessed vehicle that must be returned to its owner, so too should the gasoline—or the fair market value of it—be returned to its ‘owner’.
Here’s the quote from Church-Dellinger’s attorney, Brian Parker, that’s been making the rounds in the press to explain this notion: “It’s the same as if you left your jacket in there and they didn’t return it to you. You can’t take someone’s coat or fuzzy dice, and you have to return the gas.” Parker goes on to say, “Gasoline is considered personal property. If it’s in the ground and not extracted, it’s a mineral. If it’s extracted, it’s personal property.”
The repo’d car gas class action lawsuit seeks reimbursement for all gasoline taken as a result of car repossession and it also seeks to have Ally provide credit for gas left in repossessed cars in the future.