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Mauston man asks state for compensation after given wrong car title

By Adam Schrager, aschrager@wisctv.com
Published On: Jun 27 2013 06:32:49 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 27 2013 08:26:50 PM CDT

Rick Davis

MAUSTON, Wis. -

A Mauston man is asking the state of Wisconsin to compensate for a mistake that led him to pay $31,000 plus tax for a 2011 Chevy Avalanche that he bought in December from a private buyer in northern Wisconsin.

The state mistakenly changed the title of the vehicle, which had been totaled in an earlier accident, from "salvage" to clean.

"Our government puts this system in place to protect us and now, this is the way they protect us," said Rick Davis.

"It's not my problem. I feel like they made the mistake. They need to fix their mistake,” said Davis.

Wisconsin's "lemon law" requires car dealerships to buy back vehicles that hold inappropriate titles, but that requirement is not imposed on private sellers.

Davis said he knew the vehicle had been in an earlier accident, but said he assumed since the title was clean, the SUV was fine.

Davis found out it wasn't when he tried to resell it, after it gave his wife back problems and the first prospective buyer ran a CarFax on the vehicle and discovered it had been rebuilt.

"I guess they're thinking I should have run a CarFax on it, but why should I do that when I've got a clean title," Davis said. "They aren't supposed to make that mistake."

The head of the Wisconsin Bureau of Vehicle Services, Mitchell Warren, agreed.

"We know for sure that we made a mistake," Warren said. "We need to find a way to make these folks whole. We're going to make sure that happens."

Before reaching Warren, Davis had been promised $80 from the state to cover the cost of getting the vehicle re-inspected and retitled yet again, so he could drive it.

Because he owned a salvaged vehicle, Davis said he could not get collision insurance from his insurer and that the manufacturer would no longer honor any future recalls on the SUV. Davis has not taken the state up on that offer, contacting News 3 instead, to ask questions on his behalf.

Davis currently has an offer of $12,500 from a potential buyer, but says he does not feel he should take a roughly $20,000 loss because of the state's mistake.

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