Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC v. Carduco, Inc. (Opinion)Annotate this Case
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming an award of actual and punitive damages in favor of Carduco, Inc., a Mercedes-Benz franchisee, on its fraud claim against Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, holding that the court of appeals erred in affirming the trial court’s judgment, as modified.
In its complaint Caduco alleged that Mercedes fraudulently induced it to purchase the assets of the previous Mercedes-Benz dealer in Harlingen, Texas. Specifically, Carduco argued that Mercedes had promised Carduco that, if it agreed to take on the franchise in Harlington, Carduco would eventually be able to relocate to the McAllen area as the exclusive Mercedes-Benz dealership there. A jury found for Carduco and awarded both actual and punitive damages. The court of appeals affirmed as modified by a suggestion of remittitur of the punitive damages award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the parties’ written agreement directly contradicted Carduco’s purported belief that Mercedes had promised to McAllen area to it, thereby negating Carduco’s justifiable reliance as a matter of law. The Court then rendered judgment that Carduco take nothing.