FINANCIAL SERVICES VEHICLE TRUST VS. JAMES PANTER NISSAN INFINITY LT VS. BENJAMIN A. FRATTO SANTANDER CONSUMER USA VS. ALBARI M. EL FINANCIAL SERVICES VEHICLE TRUST VS. DEBORAH MOORE (SC-002133-17, SC-002646-17, SC-002661-17 AND SC-000367-18, CAMDEN COUNTY AND STATEWIDE) (CONSOLIDATED) (A-2142-17T3/A-2691-17T3/A-2709-17T3/
In these four small claim suits, plaintiffs sought relief from defendants because their negligence caused damage to plaintiffs' vehicles. Of interest, plaintiffs sought damages because databases like CarFax mention the vehicles' newly-acquired accident histories that – plaintiffs claimed – diminished the vehicles' value even though they were repaired to their pre-accident condition and function. In finding these damages recoverable, the court held that fixing an amount for the stigma of this accident history did not require undue speculation. Such a claim, the court held, is merely subject to proof, which plaintiffs provided via an expert who testified that the "scarlet letter" of an accident history reduces a vehicle's value; in other words, the court found the claim cognizable because it is reasonable to assume that, all other things being equal, a buyer will likely pay less for a vehicle with an accident history than a vehicle without.