Judge’s ‘buyer beware’ to Limerick student who bought car on Done Deal

Judge Mary Larkin dismissed the case stating 'caveat emptor - let the buyer beware'
A JUDGE has dismissed a case taken by the mother of a student who ran into difficulty while driving her first car for the first time, stating “caveat emptor - let the buyer beware”.

A JUDGE has dismissed a case taken by the mother of a student who ran into difficulty while driving her first car for the first time, stating “caveat emptor - let the buyer beware”.

Kilmallock Court heard how the student had to ring her parents to tell them the car “wasn’t going well at all” while driving the car for the very first time.

The car was purchased after it was advertised on Done Deal as “a fabulous little car”.

Geraldine Noonan of Coolfree, Ballyorgan, Kilfinane took a case against Geff O’Sullivan of Cullen, Mallow to recover €3,650 for damages for breach of contract and/or breach of warranty.

The plaintiff purchased from the defendant a silver Renault Clio Dynamique for the sum of €3,000.

Geraldine Noonan’s daughter Sorcha Noonan who is studying psychiatric nursing in Waterford IT told Kilmallock Court that she saw an ad for the car on Done Deal and arranged to view it with her two brothers around the date of August 8.

Ms Noonan said one of her brothers took the car for a test drive down the road “and it seemed fine” and the decision was taken that they would purchase the car.

The court heard that a deposit of €400 was paid for the car and Mr O’Sullivan was to get the VRT and NCT done on the car. The court heard that Mr O’Sullivan gave out an old business card with his contact details on it.

Ms Noonan explained that Mr O’Sullivan brought the car to her family home at a later date, on a trailer.

Ms Noonan said that the following Monday she drove the car to Limerick.

“The car just wasn’t going well at all,” Ms Noonan told the court.

When asked by her solicitor, Kevin Power, what problems she experienced with the car Ms Noonan replied: “There were three lights on the dash and it was very hard to start the car.”

The court heard that Ms Noonan drove the car home and later that evening drove the car to Cork.

Ms Noonan said she was still experiencing difficulties with the car and informed her parents of the problem.

Solicitor for Mr O’Sullivan, Jacquelyn Dunne, said that the number on the ad was not her client’s number but his son’s number and said it was his son who put the ad on Done Deal.

The court heard that the ad said the car was on offer for €3,200. The court heard that an offer of €3,000 was accepted by Mr O’Sullivan.

The court heard that the car was delivered to Ms Noonan in late August. Going on her recollection, Ms Noonan said it was delivered on a Friday or Saturday and she drove it the following Monday.

Ms Dunne said her client would say the car was tested on Saturday, August 24 and was delivered on Monday, August 26.

Ms Noonan said she wasn’t at home when the car was delivered.

Ms Noonan said that the car was brought to a garage the day after she first drove it to Limerick and Mr O’Sullivan was contacted almost immediately about the problems.

In her evidence, Geraldine Noonan told the court that her daughter needed a car to travel as part of her college placement.

The court heard that the car was transferred into Geraldine Noonan’s name. She said she was in the sitting room of her home when the car arrived on a trolley. She said her husband met with Mr O’Sullivan. Geraldine Noonan claimed the car was pushed off the trolley and left in the yard.

She said when her daughter later rang her to tell her she wasn’t happy with the car she told her to bring it home, and that she contacted Mr O’Sullivan to tell him they weren’t happy with the car.

Geradline Noonan said that Mr O’Sullivan told her to bring it to a garage “and he would stand over it”.

Ms Noonan said the garage man said it would cost €2,000 to repair.

She that she rang Mr O’Sullivan back “and he said that man is over the top, I’ll fix that for €400.”

Ms Dunne said her client would say that the first he heard about the car not working properly was when the garage man contacted him.

When asked if her client offered at any stage to contribute to any of the expense, Geraldine Noonan said he said he would fix it, that it would cost €400 and then offered €700.

In his evidence, engineer Anthony Greene said he inspected the car on September 28. He said that when he tried to start the vehicle it took four or five minutes before it eventually “fired”.

He said he noticed there was accident damage repair work carried out on the vehicle to the right hand side.

He said in his opinion the quality of the repair work was not to an acceptable standard. He said he extracted fuel from the fuel filter which was “contaminated with a considerable amount of dirt and a black substance which looked like paint”.

He said a background check showed the car had four previous owners.

When cross examined by Ms Dunne and asked whether the defects associated with the car’s cylinder would render it a danger to the public, Mr Greene said that if the car was only running on three cylinders and Ms Noonan was trying to overtake, “it certainly would be dangerous to try and overtake a vehicle in it because it wouldn’t have the power to overtake”.

Mr O’Sullivan who was retired from working in waste water treatment said he purchased the car in April 2013 in Armagh and his son drove it home. He said he got the car serviced and was happy with the service. “The car was perfect,” he said.

Cross examining, solicitor for Ms Noonan, Kevin Power, put it to Mr O’Sullivan that when the ad said it was “a fabulous little car” it implied that everything was 100% in the car.

Mr O’Sullivan said the car underwent the NCT a couple of days before it was delivered to Ms Noonan’s home. He said the car was transported on a trailer because he wasn’t insured to drive it. He said he drove the car off the trailer and up the yard and said there were “no problems whatsoever”.

Judge Mary Larkin said she was satisfied that Mr O’Sullivan was selling the car as a private individual and added “ caveat emptor – let the buyer beware”.

The case was dismissed.