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Klingbiel v. Commercial Credit Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
439 F.2d 1303 (1971)


On May 26, 1966, Vern Klingbiel (plaintiff) bought a car from a dealership on credit. Klingbiel made a $400 down payment, and the remaining $4,507.56 balance was to be paid in monthly installments of $125.21 over the course of three years. The mortgage contract provided that if Klingbiel defaulted or the seller “should feel itself insecure,” the seller could accelerate the balance due without notice to the Klingbiel. In such an event, Klingbiel would be obligated to pay the balance “upon demand” or redeliver the car. The agreement further gave the seller the right to foreclose in any lawful way or repossess the car without notice or demand to Klingbiel. The car dealer assigned its interest to Commercial Credit Corp. (Commercial) (defendant) for $3,400. Commercial then felt insecure and contracted the Automobile Recovery Bureau of St Louis, Missouri (ARB) to repossess the car. ARB repossessed the car four days before Klingbiel’s first payment was due. Klingbiel sued, and a jury awarded him $770 in actual damages and punitive damages amounting to double the purchase price of the car. Commercial appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)

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