Army Sgt. Rosa-La Williams thought she was getting a great deal when she bought a used 2002 BMW 325i from a dealer in Honolulu. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that she found out why the dealer had been so eager to sell the car — Williams learned through the manufacturer that a previous owner had crashed the car into a tree and the engine had caught fire.
There are countless stories from people like Williams who have bought used vehicles without knowing that their cars had been previously totaled and rebuilt. Congress tried to fix the problem in 1992 when it passed a law calling for a national database that would require states, insurance companies and junk and salvage yards to report information about these vehicles.
Now, more than 15 years later, the database is still far from reality.
Today, Public Citizen, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety and Consumer Action sued the Department of Justice, the agency in charge of creating the database. Public Citizen is asking the court to order DOJ to get off the shnide and force U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to do what Congress asked for in 1992.