Indiana Consumer Law Group/The Law Office of Robert E. Duff announces the recent filing of a lawsuit against several defendants, including Santander Consumer USA Inc., over a repossession that allegedly did not comply with Indiana law. Specifically, the repo agent is alleged to have breached the peace in repossessing the plaintiff’s vehicle.
Indiana law, like most states’, permits a lienholder to repossess a car when the owner defaults on the note. This is an extremely rare – virtually unseen in any other area of law – delegation of the state’s exclusive authority to resolve disputes. As such, and because it is so likely to be abused and lead to confrontations, violence and injuries, there are strict requirements on when and how a self-help repossession can be conducted. One of those requirements is that the repossession absolutely must be conducted without a “breach of the peace.” “Breach of the peace” has been defined by the courts as continued repossession despite resistance by the owner (or the owner’s agent) of ANY KIND. Simply telling the repo agent that they cannot take the vehicle is sufficient resistance to stop a repossession, provided that it occurs before the repo agent has taken possession of (i.e., hooked up to) the vehicle. Yes, you read that right, all you have to do (legally at least) to stop the repossession of your car is tell the repo agent that he can’t have it. In principal, it is as simple as that. In practice, you can imagine that sometimes doesn’t work. If it doesn’t, the repossession becomes a wrongful repossession.