United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
GEORGE E. KERSEY, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN HONDA FINANCE CORPORATION and HERB CHAMBERS 1189, INC., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SANCTIONS
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge
an action arising out of the attempted repossession of a
vehicle. Plaintiff George Kersey is a former attorney
proceeding pro se. He leased a vehicle from Herb
Chambers 1186, Inc. Financing was provided by defendant
American Honda Finance Corporation (“AHFC”).
Kersey eventually defaulted on his lease payments, leading
AHFC to begin the process of repossessing his vehicle. He
brought suit, contending that AHFC breached the lease
agreement and violated Rhode Island's Automobile
Repossession Act. AHFC then counterclaimed for the remaining
amount due under the lease agreement. The parties have
cross-moved for summary judgment. In addition, AHFC has moved
for sanctions for Kersey's failure to comply with a court
order. For the following reasons, plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment will be denied, defendant's motion for
summary judgment will be granted, and defendant's motion
for sanctions will be denied as moot.
following facts are as set forth in the record.
Kersey is a citizen of Rhode Island. (Compl. ¶
On December 13, 2013, he signed a vehicle lease agreement to
lease a 2013 Honda Civic from Herb Chambers 1186, Inc., a
Massachusetts corporation. (Id.; Def. Ex. 3 ¶
17). Under the lease agreement, he was obligated to make
monthly payments of $221.00 for 36 months. (Def. Ex. 3 ¶
6). The contract also included a provision that provided him
the option to purchase the vehicle outright either before or
at the end of the lease term. (Id. ¶¶ 8,
25). Herb Chambers 1186, Inc., as lessor, assigned its
interest in the lease to AHFC. (Id. ¶
lease also included a default provision, which provided in
relevant part: “[The lessee] will be in default if: (a)
[the lessee] fail[s] to make any payment when due under this
lease and any required period before a default may occur has
elapsed . . . .” (Id. ¶ 34). The
provision further stated: “In the event of default,
lessor may do any or all of the following . . . (b) terminate
the lease and [the lessee's] rights to possess and use
the vehicle; (c) take possession of the vehicle by any method
or manner permitted by law; (d) determine [the lessee's]
termination liability on an early termination basis which
[the lessee] agree[s] to pay immediately; . . . and (f)
pursue any other remedy permitted by law.”
months into the lease, Kersey failed to make timely payments
and defaulted. (Def. Ex. 7 at 19). On April 18, 2014, AHFC
mailed a pre-repossession letter titled “Rights of
Defaulting Consumer under Rhode Island General Laws” to
Kersey's Rhode Island and Massachusetts addresses. (Def.
Ex. 12). The letter stated that Kersey would have 21 days to
cure his default, or AHFC would repossess the vehicle.
(Id.). On April 25, 2014, AHFC mailed Kersey a
“Past Due Account” letter, again requesting
immediate payment. (Def. Ex. 15). It is undisputed that
Kersey received these letters. (Kersey Dep. at 111).
13, 2014, more than 21 days after AHFC mailed the
pre-repossession letter, AHFC assigned the vehicle for
repossession. (Andrews Aff. ¶ 13). The next day,
Kersey's account was billed a $105 repossession fee.
(Id. ¶ 14). Despite Kersey remaining in
default, the vehicle was never recovered. (Id.
¶ 16). It appears that over the next two years, Kersey
made intermittent payments in an attempt to remain current on
the lease. (See generally Def. Ex. 7).
April 13, 2016, AHFC mailed Kersey a second pre-repossession
letter titled “Rights of Defaulting Consumer under
Rhode Island General Laws.” (Def. Ex. 17). Again, the
letter stated Kersey would have 21 days to cure his default.
(Id.). On April 25, 2016, AHFC mailed another
“Past Due Account” letter. (Def. Ex. 19). An
invoice generated on June 21, 2016 stated that Kersey owed:
(1) two past monthly payments; (2) the June 2016 monthly
payment; (3) seven late fees; (4) an outstanding Rhode Island
registration fee; and (5) the $105 repossession fee charged
to his account on May 14, 2014. (Andrews Aff. ¶ 20; Def.
Ex. 7 at 4).
the lease was scheduled to end in December 2016, Kersey
failed to return the vehicle or inform AHFC of its location.
(Andrews Aff. ¶¶ 21, 24-25). Presumably, at this
point Kersey has stolen the vehicle. AHFC has calculated the
total amount owed by Kersey to be $13, 408.80. (Id.
filed suit on December 27, 2016, against AHFC and “Herb
Chambers 1189, Inc.” His complaint appears to assert
two counts against defendants: a claim for breach of contract
and a claim for violation of R.I. Gen. Laws § 6-51. The
complaint stated that plaintiff sought to recoup five
repossession charges of $105, monetary damages in the amount
of $10, 000, and punitive damages in the amount of $1
million. (Compl. at 3-4).
1, 2017, AHFC filed a motion to amend its answer to assert a
counterclaim against Kersey for breach of contract. The ...