Arbitrator Dale I. Frederick
Rollins sought damages of $3,800 for defendants’ negligent destruction of his car that was legally parked when Sanon’s vehicle struck it. The car, with an outstanding loan of nearly $12,500, was determined to be a total loss and defendants’ did not challenge liability. Rollins’ insurer paid the credit the fair market value (FMV) of the vehicle at the time of the accident of over $9,100, with a nearly $3,400 outstanding balance. Defendants countered they were not responsible for Rollins’ debt above the FMV, arguing Rollins was responsible for the loan’s balance. The court noted a balance of a vehicle loan was too remote and indirect to establish liability on a defendant. Rollins argued he bore no responsibility for destruction of his parked car, thus, should be paid for the entire outstanding balance of the vehicle loan. Yet, defendants correctly conceded liability and damages for the FMV of the car, but opposed Rollins’ claim for the outstanding balance exceeding the FMV. But, the court ruled the law did not assign responsibility to a defendant for a claimant’s separate obligation to repay a car loan exceeding the FMV, ruling any balance exceeding the FMV was claimant’s sole responsibility, regardless of defendants’ negligent actions. Hence, the claim failed, and was dismissed.