VANCOUVER, Wash. — A woman who had been picketing outside a Vancouver car dealership is finally – after a lengthy legal fight – getting the title to the van she bought there.
KGW first reported on Mary Williams’ story in November and she was trying to get the title from the van she bought from Hot Wheels LLC on Highway 99 in Vancouver. She said she had waited close to year to get the title to a van she paid cash for.
Today, the wait is over.
“I did receive the title and paperwork from Hot Wheels' attorney,” Williams told KGW. But both she and the dealership say the process hasn’t been easy.
In May 2018, months after purchasing the van and not receiving the title, Mary sued the used car dealership in small claims court. She won a maximum judgment $5,000.
Hot Wheels claimed they mailed her the title but the judge, Commissioner Abigail Bartlett, didn’t buy it. During their first court appearance in May, Bartlett told both parties, “I don't find it credible that the title was mailed to Ms. Williams, I just don't find it credible that you (Hot Wheels LLC) wouldn't have some kind of tracking or something as important as a title if you're going to mail it to Ms. Williams.”
But Commissioner Bartlett also failed to clarify her ruling. How Wheels interpreted the ruling as saying Williams should either get the $5,000 judgement or get the title to the van, but not both. The company would not pay Mary the court's judgement unless she returned the van.
Williams claimed she had spent thousands more on the van after she bought it to make it wheelchair accessible and accepting the court’s $5,000 judgment would result in her losing money.
“I fixed it up, I put the ramp in it, I paid to license it for a year and not be able to drive it, I paid to insure it not being able to drive it,” she explained.
So Hot Wheels LLC asked the judge to clarify her ruling and they went back to court in December 2018, after our original story aired. Mary was unable to attend, but joined the court proceeding by phone.
Commissioner Bartlett gave her a choice: take the $5,000 judgement and return the van, or agree to vacate the judgement, finally get a title to her van. She would also then have the option to re-file her claim in a higher court.
“If you'd like to file the claim in Superior Court to seek nine thousand in damages then I can certainly withdraw the judgment in this case and give you the opportunity to do so. Is that what you'd like to do?”
Without hesitation, Mary answered, “Yes.”
Hot Wheels LLC again denied our request for an on-camera interview. But their attorney did tell us for three months after Mary bought the van, they had no idea she didn't have a title. And they say it took so long to re-create one because they had to involve the auto auction, the prior dealership and a previous owner.
Hot Wheels LLC sent Mary the title after the second Court hearing in December. It'll be a few more weeks for the state of Oregon to process it.
Williams has not yet decided if she’ll continue to pursue her case to a higher court now that she is getting the title.
An attorney for Hot Wheels told KGW that the company regrets the situation and stands by its claim that it did send the title to Mary when she first bought the van. He said as soon as the judge clarified the small claims ruling, they sent a re-created title to her, through certified mail, the same day.