Acquiring, repairing, and maintaining classic cars isn’t easy. And when something is not easy to do, it’s often expensive. As a result, people aren’t likely to buy classic cars unless they have the money to pay for rare materials and specialized services. Unfortunately, when a lot of money is involved, fraud is usually not too far away.
William Oesterle found this out the hard way in 2011 when they bought a 1955 Austin Healey Model 100S car for $630,000. The Healey Werks Corp allegedly agreed to restore the vehicle before delivering it to Oesterle.
In 2013, Oesterle bought another car from The Healey Werks Corp, this time a 1956 Austin Healey 100M for $50,000. The car was unassembled at the time Oesterle bought it, so it was allegedly agreed that The Healey Werks Corp was going to arrange for the vehicle to be restored at some point in the future.
In January of 2020, Oesterle emailed the owner of the company to ask about the status of the Healey 100S. In the course of their communications, Oesterle found out that the company had allegedly started restoring the 100M without approval.
Oesterle also bought an Austin Healey Silverstone for $160,000, also with the alleged agreement that the company would restore the car before delivering it to Oesterle. The documents listing the terms of the sale specified that, once the car was restored, The Healey Werks Corp would repay Oesterle for their $160,000 investment and sell the car, at which point the profits would be split between Oesterle and the company.
Instead, The Healey Werks Corp allegedly sold the Silverstone without Oesterle’s approval, which violated the terms of their agreement. Rather than splitting the profits, per the terms of their agreement, the company allegedly used the money from the sale of the Silverstone to fund the restoration of the 100M.
When Oesterle tried to obtain the vehicles for which they had paid The Healy Werks Corp more than $800,000, the company allegedly refused to hand them over until Oesterle agreed to pay restoration costs and other fees.
Oesterle sued The Healey Werks Corp, ANCA Properties, and Craig Hillinger for fraud and for violating the terms of their agreement. ANCA Properties and Craig Hillinger both filed for bankruptcy before the trial could take place, so it proceeded against The Healey Werks Corp.
In their complaint, Oesterle alleged they suffered damages worth $2,390,962.14, and the court agreed. Not only did the court side with Oesterle in the dispute, but the judge ordered The Healey Werks Corp to pay Oesterle $7.1 million, plus all the legal fees and costs they incurred while filing the lawsuit.
Oesterle said they wanted other members of the classic car community to be aware of their situation and the risks they incur by trusting their very expensive classic cars to people all over the country. In many cases, buyers don’t even have the chance to meet the people they’re working with before handing over large amounts of money to pay for specialized services.
Our car dealer fraud law firm has handled well over a hundred auto fraud cases and taken a number to judgment. We have won punitive damages against deceptive car dealers and aggressively pursue our clients’ claims with the goal of making them whole through settlements or judgments.
Super Lawyers named Illinois consumer rights law trial attorney Peter Lubin and Patrick Austermuehle a Super Lawyer and Rising Star respectively in the categories of Class Action, Consumer Rights, and Business Litigation. Lubin Austermuehle’s Illinois class action and consumer protection litigation and arbitration lawyers have more than thirty years of experience litigating and proscuting care fraud and consumer rights cases and class actions. Our Naperville and Wheaton consumer rights litigation, auto fraud and car fraud litigation, and alternative dispute resolution lawyers handle emergency litigation both in court before arbitration administrators including the BBB, JAMS, AAA and others. You can contact us locally by calling (630) 333-0333 or contact us online here.