Mauston man, State of Wisconsin negotiate settlement for wrong car title

Mauston man, State of Wisconsin negotiate settlement for wrong car title
Rick Davis

A Mauston man will receive $11,000 from the state of Wisconsin after it acknowledged wrongly giving a clean title to a car he was purchasing rather than the salvage title it should have held.

Rick Davis bought the 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche for $31,000 plus tax from a private buyer after seeing the clean title, which means that a vehicle has not lost more than half of its value in an accident.

When his wife did not like it and he sought to sell it, he found out from a possible buyer that it had previously been totaled.

An appraiser hired by the state now values the vehicle at $20,000. Davis recently received an offer of $9,000 from the state to settle the issue. Kay Millonzi, risk manager with the Department of Transportation, upped the offer to Davis in an email Aug. 1 and called it a “full settlement.”

Davis had sought to have the state buy the car from him at the price he paid for it, $31,000, no more, no less. He said when he was a car dealer in the 1990s, the state required he and his colleagues to reimburse customers if they bought something that was mechanically not what they expected it to be. However, Millonzi said in her note to Davis that the state would not offer more, as his experience should have led him to better prepare for his original transaction.

“(Your past history as a car dealer) puts you in the position of someone with greater knowledge of car purchases/sales and therefore a greater likelihood that a court would find you to have some comparative fault for not obtaining a Carfax,” she wrote Davis. “Nonetheless, any litigation has its risks and costs and we are willing to compromise to settle this matter and take responsibility for WisDOTs role in this situation.”

Davis said he would accept the offer “even though this in no way makes us whole.”

To break even, he will be forced to sell the vehicle for $20,000 and that frustrates him.

“Now, I’m going to be burdened with selling a vehicle, a salvage vehicle, which is not what I do,” he said.

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