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Newport Beach, Calif. attorney Brian Donovan simply wanted to buy a Jaguar for his wife. What he got was a four-year court battle that finally ended Monday with a ruling from the California Supreme Court. Donovan had opened up the newspaper and found an ad for a sapphire blue XJ6 Vanden Plas priced at $25,995. He walked into Lexus of Westminster with a check in hand. But the dealer wanted $37,000 for the car and blamed the typographical error on the paper. Donovan — a government contract lawyer — insisted his refusal to sell the car was a breach of contract and sued. On Monday, the justices ruled that while Donovan was right about the ad constituting a contract between the dealer and consumers, the contract ultimately had to be rescinded on grounds that the error was made due to oversight. “No evidence presented at trial suggested that defendant knew of the mistake before plaintiff attempted to purchase the automobile, that defendant intended to mislead customers, or that it had adopted a practice of deliberate indifference regarding errors in advertisements,” wrote Chief Justice Ronald George, leading the 4-2 majority in Donovan v. RRL Corp., S082570. James Lewis, the Los Angeles attorney who represented the dealer, said the case resolves an issue that has come up before among car salesmen. “It give dealers specific direction as to where they are if a mistake is made in an ad and it’s not of their doing,” he said. In fact, much of the decision focuses on rescission theory and what’s required to trigger it. But in her dissent, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar called “the majority’s grant of contractual rescission � relief that is both unsolicited and procedurally irregular.” Joined by Justice Marvin Baxter, Werdegar pointed out that the argument of rescission was never even raised by either party. “Even at oral argument, counsel for defendant resisted the suggestion that he was seeking rescission, viewing that position as a concession that a contract had been formed, although counsel did eventually agree he ‘would be pleased to prevail on any theory.’ “ Donovan took heart in Werdegar’s dissent, saying the majority appeared to have “bent over backwards to find a way to not give me relief.” He added, however, that while he didn’t win his battle, he appeared to have won the war. “Consumers at least know now that an advertisement is an offer,” he said. As for the car, he said he ended up buying a different model two weeks after the blue Vanden Plas didn’t work out. His wife still drives it. He added, “I don’t like Jaguars. Women like Jaguars. This was my wife’s idea.”

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