Castle v. Barrett-Jackson (CA1 5/10/12)

At least in a non-insurance setting, small print is apparently not enough to trigger reasonable expectations.

Castle bought a ‘57 T-bird at a Barrett-Jackson auction, then sued Barrett-Jackson and the seller/consignor for consumer fraud. The Complaint didn’t allege that Barrett-Jackson misrepresented anything and the sale paperwork said that all representations were the consignor’s.  The trial court dismissed the Complaint against Barrett-Jackson. Castle appealed.

He argued that the paperwork can’t relieve a party of its own fraud. But the paperwork didn’t do that, it was simply evidence that Barrett-Jackson hadn’t made any representations.

So Castle argued reasonable expectations. He said he shouldn’t have been expected to read the language at issue because it was in small print. But the circumstances required by Darner were not present to indicate that Barrett-Jackson had reason to believe that Castle wouldn’t have accepted the term (i.e., the term wasn’t weird or oppressive and didn’t violate the express terms or the purpose of the agreement).

(link to opinion)