A panel of the Fifth District Appellate Court has upheld a St. Clair County ruling against a woman who sued over a car trade in.
In an unpublished order filed July 12, the appellate court affirmed Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn’s judgment in favor of Toyota Motor Credit Corp. and against Atrella R. Reynolds.
The panel determined that McGlynn’s ruling was proper because Reynolds failed to answer Toyota’s counterclaim or file a second amended complaint under a court order that allowed her to do so.
Justice Melissa Chapman delivered the court’s order. Justices Richard Goldenhersh and Judy Cates concurred.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit Reynolds brought against Newbold Toyota Dealership in O’Fallon over issues stemming from a car trade in.
In March 2007, she traded in her 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe to Newbold for a 2007 Toyota Prius, financing the difference between her trade-in allowance and the price of the Prius with Toyota Motor Corp.
Within two weeks of the trade in, she returned to the dealership to try to get out of her Prius contract and get her old car back. Because her Hyundai had already been sold, she agreed to trade in the Prius for a 2007 Toyota Corolla.
According to the appellate court order, Reynolds claimed she believed the Corolla contract would include her original trade in allowance for the Hyundai, but that the contract did not show that trade in and as such, was overcharged.
Reynolds alleged she made several attempts to get the financing terms corrected and after getting no help to do so, continued to make her monthly payments until she paid her balance to about $7,000 --the amount she was not credited for her Hyundai trade in.
When she reached that amount, the order states, Reynolds admits she stopped making payments on the Corolla contract.
Upon default, Toyota sought payment of the total amount owed --$8,624.92 – or the return of the Corolla, two options provided under the contract and both of which Reynolds refused.
Instead, she sued Newbold, seeking injunctive relief to prevent her Corolla from being repossessed and reimbursement of money she claimed she was overcharged, as well the car title, attorneys’ fees and costs.
In May 2011, McGlynn denied Reynolds’ request for a temporary restraining order and the following month, Toyota Motor Credit Corp. sought to intervene in the case.
Toyota then filed a counterclaim against Reynolds for the wrongful taking of property and breach of contract, as well as a motion to dismiss Reynolds’ suit that asserted she failed to raise a claim for injunctive relief.
McGlynn in August 2011 entered an order directing Reynolds to respond to Toyota’s counterclaim within 30 days. Later that month, he granted the motion to dismiss and gave Reynolds 21 days to file an amended complaint.
According to the appellate court order, she filed an amended complaint in September 2011, but did not file a response to the counterclaim.
Toyota then filed motions for default judgment and to dismiss the claim for injunctive relief in Reynolds’ amended complaint.
McGlynn denied Toyota’s request for default judgment and granted its motion to dismiss, ordering Reynolds to respond to the counterclaim and file a second amended complaint within 21 days.
Reynolds, the order states, didn’t respond to the counterclaim or file a second amended complaint.
In November 2011, Toyota filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings that was called to a hearing the following month.
While McGlynn didn’t rule on the motion, he did grant Reynolds additional time to file her second amended complaint and a response to the counterclaim.
Instead of filing either, the order states that Reynolds filed a pleading that attacked Toyota’s motion to dismiss.
In March 2012, McGlynn entered judgment in favor of Toyota on both its counterclaim and Reynold’s amended complaint, rulings that spurred her to appeal.
When it comes to Toyota’s counterclaim, Chapman wrote in the panel’s order that Reynolds was given two extensions of time to file her response and her failure to do so resulted in the court admitting all of the factual allegations in the counterclaim.
Chapman also notes that Reynolds admitted that she had stopped making payments on her Corolla.
“Having reviewed the record and briefs on appeal, we see no material issue of fact that precluded the trial court's entry of judgment on the pleadings,” she wrote. “We affirm that order.”
In regards to the McGlynn’s judgment on Reynolds’ complaint, Chapman wrote that even though Reynolds was given additional time to file a second amended complaint, she never did.
“No complaint was pending before the trial court on March 23, 2012, since Ms. Reynolds chose not to amend her complaint,” Chapman explained. “We have therefore concluded that there is no basis in law to reverse the trial court's judgment in favor of Toyota.”