Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog

Kansas City Sued for Auctioning Impounded Vehicles Without Notifying Owners

Looking for a great deal on a pre-owned vehicle? Tired of negotiating with those uppity, big-time salespeople? Having trouble getting approved for a car loan and want to pay cash instead?

Well come on down to Kansas City's impounded car auction! Where you'll find great deals on wrecked and abandoned cars, illegally parked vehicles, or newer models seized by police in criminal investigations! We've even got Chrysler sedans, Ford trucks, and a Lexus ES 300, straight off the lot. (Disclaimer: Don't pay attention to that federal lawsuit involving the sale of these vehicles.)

Dodgy Dealership

That lawsuit claims Kansas City has been selling impounded vehicles -- as many as 50 over the past four years -- without notifying the owner or gaining consent. The city auctions off abandoned or impounded vehicles the third Tuesday of each month. If the last registered owner of the vehicle doesn't retrieve a vehicle within 30 days of a written notice, the city sells it and keeps the proceeds.

The only problem with this policy is that true owners of the vehicles, with valid title, may not have registered them before they were stolen, towed, or wrecked. This is especially true for used car dealers, whose inventory is constantly in flux.

Crooked Car Sales

The lead plaintiff in the federal lawsuit against Kansas City, its police department, and board of police commissioners, says he reported several vehicles stolen from his used car lot in September 2013: two Chrysler Sebrings, a Ford Expedition, a Ford F-350, and a Lexus ES 300. Although the vehicles were recovered the same month, they were impounded as part of the theft investigation.

By November 2014, the criminal was dismissed and the vehicles were sold at auction, all without the used car lot owner being notified, although he claims the city knew the whole time he owned the vehicles. The Kansas City Star estimates that more than 5,300 vehicles were auctioned off by the city last year alone, bringing in a total of $2.3 million in proceeds.

So if you want a good deal on a sweet ride (that may or may not belong to someone else) come on down to Kansas City's Impounded Car Emporium today!

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