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Corbin wins decision in Sparrow lawsuit

April 15, 2004
Filed under Features

A U.S. district court judge in San Jose, Calif., Jan. 9, 2004, ruled against a lawsuit filed by an investor group in England, claiming that Mike Corbin and Tom Corbin had fraudulently induced them to purchase the Sparrow electric cars and promote and sell them in the United Kingdom.
Corbin had sought a summary judgement in response to the suit filed by Ecovec UK. The summary judgement applies in all five claims in which Ecovec sought relief.
In entering a summary judgement, the court, in effect, says that a reasonable jury would not agree with the plaintiff’s position.
The suit stems from activities involving the Corbins and the development of the Sparrow, an electric-powered three-wheel vehicle. Corbin Motors closed its doors after filing for bankruptcy.
In its suit, Ecovec claimed fraud, breach of contract, and breach of warranty. It sought punitive damages in addition to the sum of $91,000, plus interest from goods returned to the Corbins.
In its fraud claim, Ecovec failed to show that Corbin made false representations of material facts; knew of their falsity; intended to defraud and caused damage to Ecovec. Judge Richard Seeborg wrote in his decision that no evidence was presented to support Ecovec’s claim, and he ruled for Corbin and against Ecovec.
In regard to the breach of contract claim, Ecovec said it entered into an orgal agreement with the Corbins to be the exclusive Sparrow distributor in the UK, but no evidence was provided to support this claim. Ecovec also made other claims regarding technical specifications on the Sparrow that it said were provided, but did not present proof to back up this position. Again, wrote Seeborg, there is no evidentiary support offered.
Seeborg notes that the California Civil Code permits an award of punitive damages in cases where it is proven by “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendent is guilty of fraud or malice. However, “no evidence exists to support a claim for punitive damages in this instance,” the judge wrote.
Judge Seeborg also ruled against Ecovec in its claims for breach of warranty and claims for goods returned to Corbin. Wayne Mitchell, an Ecovec manager, had admitted in his deposition that an account to keep track of such transactions never existed.

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