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Ram: Monroney mistake leads to lawsuit

by Bill Cawthon on

A South Carolina man is suing Fiat Chrysler over an incorrect Monroney sticker on a 2014 Ram 1500.

In Besley v. FCA US LLC, Robert K. Besley, Jr. of Aiken, South Carolina, says he bought a 2014 Ram 1500 Big Horn from Triangle Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram in Graniteville in January 2014.

Ram-Monroney

The Monroney (“window”) sticker on Besley’s truck said it was equipped with an optional 3.55 rear axle, an upgrade Besley paid for when he bought the Ram.

Nine months after he bought his new truck, FCA notified him that the Monroney sticker was incorrect, saying his Ram had the standard 3.21 rear axle. As compensation for the error, FCA offered Besley 750 “Mopar Dollars” that could be used for service or accessories.

Besley’s complaint is that FCA never offered to replace the axle.

Generally, Monroney errors must be detected in a short period of time after purchasing a new vehicle. Since it was unreasonable for Besley to know his truck had the wrong rear axle, the time between purchase and discovery is unlikely to be an issue.

What is an issue is the extent of FCA’s liability. Even though Monroney errors are not uncommon, legal opinions agree that compensation is generally limited to the value of the missing option. Even in a case of deliberately providing false information, the maximum federal penalty is $1,000. FCA offered compensation well in excess of the $50 cost for the upgraded rear axle.

Besley is suing for actual and punitive damages and is hoping his action will be certified as a class-action suit, which holds the possibility for Besley to receive a much larger settlement.

FCA had no comment on the lawsuit and declined to say how many 2014 Rams had been shipped with incorrect Monroney stickers.

The suit, case number 1:2015cv01511, claims personal property damage and was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for South Carolina. The presiding judge is J. Michelle Childs.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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