Got screwed today

Discussion in 'Firewall Forward / Props / Fuel system' started by toweym, May 7, 2007.

1. May 7, 2007

toweym

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It was the most action I've had in months!

Purchased an O-200 via eBay the other week after several phone calls and a successful bid. All seemed on the up and up as we went through the history on the phone; it allegedly is was pulled off a 150 that ran it's wing into a pole and the owner opted to part out versus repair. I asked specific answers and was given reasonable answers.

I drove all day and night to pick it up and when I returned I looked up the N# from the logs at the NTSB site to print out the accident report for the record. Low and behold it was a prop strike from a collapsed nose gear. Called the guys, two A&P's that run a shop in FL, and they claimed ignorance. They gave one story after another but finally agreed to pay $1200 toward tear down, inspection, and rebuild under threat of (of all things) reporting them to the BBB. Wish me luck that the check is good and the crank is better. These guys are in the dictionary next to "buyer beware" and I can be found next to "stupid". First time in 5 yrs I got it from eBay --$5300 for a boat anchor with accessories.

Anyone need an engine?

2. May 7, 2007

orion

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There's probably a bit more you should do here - report the falsified sale to the FAA. Selling a certified aircraft engine under false pretenses, with false statements or data is a felony!!! Minimum 5 years in federal prison.

3. May 7, 2007

toweym

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Intent is hard to prove and the phone conversations are no more than he said she said. The add would be the only record and though it doesn't disclose the prop strike it doesn't really say much of anything save the hours. If I were an investigator there would be little doubt as to their guilt but only as a dissatisfied customer it would be difficult to make a case.

That said I hate holding someone's license against them. Just because you're an A&P you suddenly are responsible for everything you touch. Had a father-in-law that was a doctor and remember him quickly departing the scene of an accident he happened upon worried about liability. He couldn't offer to help with a skill he had because he was licensed -- pretty sad.

If these guys were a little more bold, the add had stated obvious falsifications, and they made claim to their expertise as an alibi, it would be different but they never mentioned they were A&P's until later, they never said it was a certified engine and only that is was a 'real nice little motor'.

One question I do have is it the responsibility of an A&P to investigate a part's history before it's sale? If an A&P buys a lot of salvaged aircraft parts is he required to look into each ones' past, and disclose the information, before the sale or is it the responsibility of the individual installing a salvaged part to do this?

4. May 7, 2007

orion

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Granted, my understanding of the FAA's interpretation of the applicable laws is limited but I have seen a few practical examples of the strict nature of these laws and the extent to which the FAA goes to enforce them. As such, I do believe that it does fall within the A & P's area of responsibility to research, investigate and/or inspect every part he or she deals with in connection with any legal commerce, be it sale or installation on a certified product. Lies about any part, be it through ignorance or deceit, is prosecutable and it seems that the rules of evidence may not be as strict as they would be in more common criminal prosecution. As such, just the omission of the fact that the engine had a prop strike may be enough for a pretty serious conviction. Furthermore, since it was a certified aircraft engine, the seller may be responsible whether he was an A & P or not.

Case in point: About three years ago I met a gentleman who was in the airplane business (kit) but was not an A & P. At the time he was selling a certified Lyc., which was eventually purchased by a gentleman who was looking to install it on his kit airplane. In the sale the seller indicated that the only thing he knew of the engine was that which was listed in the logbook, but at some point also made a few side comments regarding the condition of the engine, which upon inspection turned out not to be the case.

The comments could have been interpreted as naive so when the police showed up at the door, the whole thing was not taken all that seriously. His attorney thought that he would get a simple slap on the wrist, pay a fine, and that would be the end of it. Nope - today he's in federal prison.

In short, if an A & P sold you an engine where not all its history was revealed due to a purposeful omission of fact, that alone could warrant a serious case.

5. May 7, 2007

toweym

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"due to a purposeful omission of the fact" would be the key to the case.

The only reason I could see to report them would be to start a file and, if several more complain, then the FAA might be able to show malice and/or incompetence. Then they could fine, suspend, or imprison, appropriately.

To their credit they are trying to make it right by paying to have the engine inspected. People make mistakes and their lawyer would show that they agreed to pay for the inspections that, FWIW, are only in a Safety Bulletin for Continental's, not an AD like Lycoming's. If they honestly made the mistake, how many times, and for how long, do you kick the proverbial dead horse? I think one has to try, and the courts certainly would, give them the benefit of doubt.

When the check bounces I'll probably drop a line to the FAA. I don't see the check as a payoff but satisfying the paragraph above. Give them a chance to make it right and there isn't much more I can or should do. I don't think this is the same as taking money to keep my mouth shut -- is it?

6. May 7, 2007

org

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I must be missing something...didn't these guys purposfully leave out the prop strike? Doesn't that indicate pretty strongly that they're trying to unload this engine, which may or may not be of any use at all to you? Are they not taking your money, which is definitely of use to them?

If they're paying for the inspection, will they also give you your money back if the engine is trash? If so, it would seem you're OK and won't be out anything. If not, you're still out the price of the anchor, and they've still cleared the difference.

With all that said, in your place, I'd not worry one second about inconveniencing them. Quite possibly, just the possibility (strongly hinted at by you) of a report to the FAA would get your money back and that would be the end of it. If not, the actual report might save somebody else being shafted by them, or even prevent an accident.

All IMHO, good luck whatever you do.

Olen

7. May 7, 2007

toweym

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Again the trick is proving "purposefully".

Are they going to believe me over a company that has been in business for 45 years? I can't prove what was and wasn't said.

8. May 8, 2007

org

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I'm not going to beat this to death, but one point: you don't have to prove it unless in court. If you feel it was purposful, you are justified in making them as uncomfortable as necessary to get your money back (if it comes to that...I hope the inspection turns out OK and the whole thing blows over, for your sake.) I agree, it probably wouldn't be worth going to court with, for the reasons you stated. It isn't necessary that the guys that tried to screw you to know that, though. Just knowing that you're thinking about reporting to the FAA on the situation should make them take notice, especially if they HAVE done it before.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck and I hope it all works out for you. I know it's not fun to lose money to someone taking advantage; the money comes too hard for that.

Olen

Last edited: May 8, 2007
9. May 8, 2007

Midniteoyl

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I have to agree with Bill and Olen here and had another word; negligence. Seems to me that you found this information pretty easily, so it makes me wonder why a shop in business for 45yrs could not?... Come on.

10. May 8, 2007

toweym

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Ironic I sound like I'm defending them but I guess I'm just picturing how the case would go. Are they obliged to find the history on every part they sell?

I was at an airport once that had two or three folks battling with each other. Eventually one of them wrote the FAA as a "concerned citizen" and then the other did and so on. The FAA finally shows up to show the flag and slapped a few grounding stickers around and suspended a license or two but nothing really big. Turns out I knew one of the inspectors and we talked a while and he gave me a good perspective. It takes allot to show all that you guys are saying. You are arguing principles and I agree with you on them. Proving them is another matter altogether. Negligent? Probably not since I think they knew but I can't prove either one, not beyond reasonable doubt anyway. Further how is it negligence when the FAA doesn’t require the inspection? It's only in a safety bulletin so the FAA isn't even going to get involved too deep since nothing really happened.

In the end I think that if I were the judge and heard that a buyer is unhappy after he finds out information he could have obtained before the sale but the seller agrees to have the engine inspected at the sellers cost as a gesture of goodwill anyway. Additionally, since this inspection isn't even required by the FAA I think I would find in favor of the sellers.

Don’t take me wrong, I’m not happy, but I think I’m getting the best that I can.

11. May 8, 2007

CNCRouterman

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Ok, if you believe they knew, and sold it to you anyway, and managed to, shall we say, encourage you to be quiet, what happens when they do it to someone else who ends up dead as a result, will you feel as though you should have done something different then?

I fully sympathize with your struggle. However, as you have limited resources to determine whether or not these folks made an honest error, or a malicious one, I would opine that you have a moral obligation to take it to the next level as per Orion.

Believe me, as a small business owner who is imperfect, I would rather work out an amiable solution than get into any legal entanglements, but sometimes you have to go there to convict, or to vindicate. Either way, as unpleasant as it may be, it will be in all of our best interests for the matter to be proven one way or the other.

12. May 8, 2007

toweym

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I have a moral obligation to let them try and resolve the issue as well however, since the inspection is not required, how do I have a moral obligation to report them and to who? The BBB is about all I can think of since they mis-represented their product.

FWIW, as suspected, they have renig'ed on their offer to pay. I did contact the FAA, in part due to the overwhelming opinions expressed here, and they agreed that there is little for them to do since no regulations were violated. If they were installing unserviceable parts and signing them off as airworthy that is different but they only sold an engine that, in my opinion, they lied about. Further what they lied about requires no action. I have filed a complaint with the BBB and will take them to small claims court, which I understand will require them to appear several state lines from where they reside. That might be enough to get them to budge but at this point I have nothing to lose.

13. May 8, 2007

orion

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They sold a misrepresented certified engine and "no regulations were violated"? Color me surprised - I'm sure that one gentleman now in federal prison would be interested in hearing this one.

14. May 8, 2007

CNCRouterman

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The membership of this board includes many aviation disciplines, I would think that there might be one or two in the legal profession that could pipe in. If not, I know that there are several on another board I visit, ipilot.com. One in particular is named Cary. They have a "legal" section on their boards that might be worth visiting. Also, Ebay may provide recourse, at the very least you can provide negative feedback, which will likely kill any addition Ebay business they might otherwise get. I would bet that your experience, if circulated in their back yard would be something they would work very hard at avoiding.

Of course, I am only getting part of the story, and have no legal credentials, so I may be overly optimistic of your legal and ethical stand.

However, as earlier stated, your providing as detailed and accurate an account of the events to the FAA and BBB may make a very important difference to the next guy/gal. Getting stuck with a boat anchor, although fiscally painful, may yet turn out to your benefit in the long run.

Best wishes in resolving this in an amiable fashion.

15. May 9, 2007

toweym

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Orion,

I really appreciate the dialogue. Let's say they lied in saying it didn't have a prop strike. What FAR did they violate?

Back to a previous point we made. Are they responsible for knowing the history? If they are then they are guilty and I can pursue that; if not how do I prove they knew about it and lied if indeed this violates a FAR?

If they didn't violate a FAR, they probably (hard to prove) misrepresented a product and there are obviously laws against that but they are outside of the realm of the FAA, certified engine or not; and remember the engine is still certified even without an inspection.

I will allow eBay their due course and when that is ignored I'll go to court. I see a lawyer tomorrow who is one of those aggressive types - the kind that likes his job. The only thing on my side is I have nothing better to do but to give chase for a while.

16. May 9, 2007

Othman

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Toweym,

How long did it take you to do a search for the NTSB report and get the facts... probably much less than an hour.

So it wouldn't have been much trouble for the sellers (who are licensed A&P's and should know this) to do the "due diligence" thing, before selling something as safety critical as an engine, based on hearsay evidence. Sounds like negligence to me.

Like you, I’m not a fan of the popular use (or misuse) of the legal system to sue anyone “just ‘cause”. But on the other hand, we are all responsible and accountable for our actions. If we knowingly choose to do the wrong thing, then we must be willing to bare the consequences.

Personally I would try to get my money back (if the engine turned out to be scrap) by using hanging legal action over their heads… maybe the whole experience will be enough to scare them away from trying that again.

Ashraf

17. May 10, 2007

toweym

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Sad but if you think of it there is no incentive for a seller to search an item's history; the best one could hope for is to break even. Only the guy who installs a part is required to sign up to the airworthiness of that part. Fortunately my ignorance continues to flourish as I missed something else. The add stated the accessories were new and named the alternator, mags, and starter in particular. They are not new and I will sue for the value to replace them at 'new' cost. FWIW the FAA stated this too is out of their area of responsibility. If the individuals had signed an 8130 stating new parts then there would be something for the FAA to look into but this type of fraud is not covered in the FAR's. They suggested civil action which we are pursuing.

18. May 10, 2007

orion

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Just FYI, I haven't ignored your last question regarding what, if any of this was in violation of the FARs. I tried to find the court documents that were on the public file regarding the other gentleman who went to prison but could not locate them - that was about four years ago.

I do have a couple of calls out so when I hear back I'll let you know.

19. May 11, 2007

toweym

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Any help you could provide would be appreciated. We will be mailing the letters threatening suit today or tomorow and after the normal waiting period file against them. The FAA said they would be calling next week but said that was all they could do and it appears the eBay account is not in use anymore.

Thanks again.

20. May 11, 2007

Midniteoyl

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I used the word negligence as one thing that was wrong with this sale. However, the statement you made, if correct, is all you need for a suit:

It seems to me that you asked specific questions and recieved specific, and incorrect, answers. If they intentionally mis-led you, its criminal. If not its negligence. Its really very simple.

Should you have done a search before purchasing? Sure. Are you, as buyer, required to do so? No. Are they responsible for how they represent thier product/item? You betcha.

Orion has another point: This came from a certified aircraft. There ARE logs and they saw them. They plain out and out lied to you.

You do what you fell you must, however....