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Shabbat Parashat Matot-Massei| 5767
A Car That Broke Down on the Day of the Sale - Based on Halacha Psuka - vol. 10 - A Condensation of a Psak found on the “DinTora” Website
Case: The plaintiff bought a car from the defendant and paid for it. Several hours after the purchase, the car broke down. The cost of fixing it was 7,000 shekels, using new replacement parts. The plaintiff claims that the problem was pre-existing, but that the check did not uncover it because it concentrates on existing problems, not factors that are likely to cause it break down later. The plaintiff says that he spoke to the garage that fixed the car for the defendant a month before the sale and that they had said that the car had a “tired gear.” In practice, the plaintiff had the repairs done using used parts for 3,800 shekel. The plaintiff will accept 3,800 shekel as compensation and points out that the defendant can recover that money from the garage since the repair was under warranty. The defendant responded that the plaintiff was aware of the problem and had been offered a low price because of it. In any case, he says that the plaintiff can sue the garage who provided the guarantee.
Ruling: The first question we will deal with is who needs to prove when the blemish that caused the damage existed. The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 232:16) rules that in a case where there is a question whether a blemish arose before or after the purchase, the burden of proof is on the one who is trying to extract money. In contrast, it says (ibid.:11) that regarding the question of an animal that was found with a blemish that makes it a treifa, the burden of proof is, as a rule, on the buyer (even if he did not yet pay). The distinction is that regarding the animal, there is a chazaka (a status quo) of fitness until we know otherwise. Beit din determined that regarding a used car, there is no chazaka of being fit. This is strengthened in this case by the account of the garage that the gear was susceptible prior to the sale. Therefore we assume that the cause of the break down was already in place at the time of the sale.
It is illogical to assume that one would agree to the existence of a blemish that would cause the car to break down on the day of the sale. Therefore, the defendant is obligated to pay to fix the car.
The final issue is who is required to trouble himself to try to extract payment from the garage. The guarantee was given to the defendant but now the defendant owes the money that is related to that obligation to the plaintiff. There is a concept of shibuda d’Rabbi Natan, which means that if Reuven owes Shimon and Shimon owes Levi, Levi can extract payment from Reuven (Ketubot 19a). However, that does not mean that Levi cannot demand payment from Shimon. Therefore, in this case, the plaintiff can demand compensation from the defendant, and it is the defendant’s prerogative to try to receive compensation for himself from the garage.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.
Hemdat Yamim is also dedicated by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z"l.
May their memory be a blessing!