By Christy Strawser
CBS Detroit Managing Editor
A New Baltimore couple is suing Suburban Ford of Sterling Heights, claiming the 2006 Ford Expedition they were sold once held a dead body.
“(The) dealer failed to disclose that the vehicle had been a prior daily rental, had been stolen and recovered, and had previously contained a decomposed human body,” says the lawsuit filed by Ruben and Margarita Salais in Oakland County Circuit Court.
Attorney Dani Liblang told Talk 1270 host Charlie Langton the couple got a great deal on the sports utility vehicle, paying about $14,000, but something about the deal — and the car — didn’t smell right.
When they bought the vehicle during a freezing March, it had a slightly odd odor, Liblang said.
“In the cold weather it wasn’t so bad. It was only after the weather started warming up, the worse the smell got … It was awful, it was terrible,” Liblang told Langton.
The couple sent the vehicle back to the dealership for diagnosis and were told the smell came from a dead animal. The dealership allegedly told the owners it was an issue for their insurance company.
State Farm had a hazardous materials company inspect it and they determined the smell was of “human origin.”
During the investigation, State Farm also discovered the vehicle had been stolen three times in its history, including recoveries in suburban Detroit’s Brownstown Township and Romulus. It had also been used as a daily rental.
The couple said the dealership had not disclosed the thefts or the vehicle’s use as a rental and demanded Suburban buy it back. The dealership refused.
“We are definitely on the customers’ side, but we had the car for three months, they had it for three months and all of a sudden they bring it back with a smell,” said Jim Elder, general sales manager of Suburban Ford. “There’s definitely a smell, but it wasn’t there when we sold the car. It’s very intense and it definitely wasn’t there before. We would love to get to the bottom of it. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”
The suit asks for an unspecified amount “above $25,000.”
But what caused the smell?
Liblang said she has subpoenas out with local police departments to try to determine what happened in that Expedition.
“This car may have been involved in a murder?” Langton asked.
Liblang said: “I would think that’s the only explanation …The HAZMAT company has said they found traces of blood.”