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Monday, December 11, 2023

Default entered against Honda of Ocala for not responding to woman’s lawsuit

An Ocala car dealership has been defaulted against in Marion County court for not responding to a woman who is suing the company for allegedly engaging in “deceptive” practices.

On Monday, Marion County Clerk of Court Gregory C. Harrell entered a default against Ocala Automotive Management, LLC, which does business as Honda of Ocala, for “failure to serve or file any papers” in response to a lawsuit filed by Felicia Slaton.

According to Florida law, when a default is entered against a party in a lawsuit, that party is prevented from raising defenses on its own behalf. In order to defend itself, the dealership will have to petition the court to set aside the default. Otherwise, the default will only allow for well-plead facts from the complaint.

The complaint, which was filed in county court on August 20 by Slaton’s attorney Robert W. Murphy, cited six different counts ranging from deceptive and unfair trade practices to negligent representation, among several others.

During a visit to the dealership at 1800 SW College Road in November 2022, Slaton’s attorneys say Honda of Ocala sold their client a vehicle “at one price” before asking her to “electronically sign purchase and finance documents that had a much higher price.”

According to the complaint, Slaton returned home after signing the papers and accessed the documents through a USB drive provided by the dealership. She alleges that she noticed a series of “unauthorized” charges and a change in the sales price at that time.

Slaton allegedly returned to the dealership on three separate occasions “over a period of several days” to dispute the increase in the final sales price of the vehicle from $33,495 to $37,050, which included a charge of $2,995 for a “free HOA Package.” She also attempted to cancel the “unauthorized” charges that totaled $5,309.73.

Honda of Ocala (1800 SW College Road)
Honda of Ocala (1800 SW College Road)

Murphy claims that even though his client submitted a cancellation, her money was not “rebated for three months,” which resulted in “payment of interest and the loss of the sales tax.”

Last week, Slaton’s attorney filed a motion for default against the dealership.

“As of the date hereof, Ocala Automotive has failed to file a responsive pleading to the Complaint without good cause or justification,” reads the motion.

In Florida, when the defendant in a lawsuit fails to file or serve a response to a complaint within 21 days of service of the complaint and summons, a plaintiff may petition the court to enter a default judgement against the defendant.

Now that the dealership has been defaulted against, Slaton’s attorney may move the court to enter a judgement against Honda of Ocala for damages. In the complaint, damages were cited as “in excess of $8,000, but not in excess of $50,000.”