Citrus County car dealer reverses deal with dementia patient - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Citrus County car dealer reverses deal with dementia patient

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Nick Nicholas Ford Nick Nicholas Ford
David Spivey, 77, suffers from dementia David Spivey, 77, suffers from dementia

He is 77 years old, but David Spivey can't tell you his age. He is not sure what year it is.

His wife, Sylvia, who is 78 and legally blind, claims David suffers from dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The state revoked David Spivey's driver's license in August 2013 because of his medical issues, yet in February and again in March, he purchased cars from an Inverness car dealership.

When the sales were final, the dealership, Nick Nicholas Ford, handed Spivey the keys and each time allowed him to drive off the lot and onto busy Highway 44.

"David shouldn't be driving, he's dangerous," Sylvia Spivey said.

Spivey's family says not only did the car dealership see David coming, they drove to his house to pick him up.

In February, Spivey purchased a used 2013 gray Ford Fusion. The deal cost him $31,300, but a month later he wanted a red car. So he called the dealership and salesman Rex Adair stopped by the house. But there was a small problem.

"David told him 'I don't have no license' and he said 'we will work around that'," Sylvia said.

There was a much larger issue as well.

"He has Alzheimer's and dementia and I told him David would sign anything if he told him to, please don't do it," she said. "The man had no business selling him a car."

Nonetheless, off to the dealership David and Rex went. By the end of the day, Spivey had traded in the gray car he bought a month before from Adair. The dealership gave him $8,000 less than what he paid for it. He was also was the proud owner of a used 2013 red Ford Fusion. The deal cost him $25,800.

"He said the man was selling him the whole car for 3 dollars. And I said 'David, that ain't right'," Sylvia said.

When 8 On Your Side talked with David Spivey recently, he seemed confused. He thought the red Fusion was a 2003, brand new when he bought it with no miles on it.

State records show the red Fusion actually had more than 3900 miles on it when Spivey bought it.

Spivey's daughter Debbie Knapp later learned another troubling aspect of the deals.

"They knowingly handed him the keys and let him drive off," Knapp said.

Knapp, who lives in Ocala, learned about these deals in April, just two weeks after Nick Nicholas Ford sold Spivey the red Fusion.

"He had driven it down a one way street the wrong way, became confused and apparently left the car in a ditch," she said.

Knapp claims police picked up her father and took him to a hospital.

She and her brother, who drove in from Houston, placed their parents into a secure Ocala assisted living facility.

Then they approached Nick Nicholas Ford about taking back the red Fusion and refunding their father's money.

"I've been here three weeks trying trying to get something done and it's not easy," Knapp's brother Leland Ray said.

That's when they contacted 8 On Your Side.

When approached, Rex Adair refused to answer questions. He walked inside the dealership and slipped into a back room to avoid our camera.

We went to Nick Nicholas' house in Inverness.

"I don't talk business at home," Nicholas said.

The next day, Nick Nicholas Ford general manager Shane Bryant got on the phone. He said David Spivey seemed fine to him when Spivey bought the first car in February. Bryant promised he was working with the family to resolve the issue.

Debbie Knapp and Shane Bryant told us the dealership agreed to buy back the red Fusion. That eliminated what David Spivey owed. Bryant said the dealership also gave Spivey a check. According to Knapp the check amounted to $6,000.

Bryant also stated that in the last 3 months, Spivey is more visibly declined now that 3 months ago.

"When he was in my office less than a week ago, he knew what he was doing, he was visibly frustrated that he had to sign the car over," Bryant claimed.

Bryant doesn't think the car dealership will come out ahead on this deal.

"I've got a car back that I have to sell. The purchase price I am buying it at from the bank is substantially more. I am going to lose money," he said.

Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHMVS) says it is legal to sell a vehicle to a person who does not have a license.

Bryant claims the dealership has sold vehicles to several people who do not have licenses. Some elderly customers purchase vehicles so their caregivers can drive them to appointments.

He said Spivey had paperwork that Spivey claimed he would file to get his license back.

So why did the dealership hand the keys of a car to a person who did not have a valid license and allow that person to drive off the lot?

"That's the consumer taking that into their hands," Bryant said.

DHMVS points out there is also no law preventing a dealership from allowing an unlicensed customer from driving a newly purchased vehicle off the dealer's lot.

"He's lucky my dad didn't kill himself," Knapp said.

So why did the dealership come to the table?

"A number of reasons," Bryant said.

"On the second deal, ethically and morally, we probably should not have done it," Bryant added.

"I don't think we did anything legally wrong. I just didn't feel good about the deal after talking with the family. It's just not worth these kinds of phone calls. In this business you don't need bad press. I've been here 25 years, we've never had a situation like this," Bryant said.

Bryant claimed that part of the deal with the family was that they notify News Channel 8 that there was a resolution, and that the story should not air. He said if it does air, then he believes the dealership has the right to undo everything it has done for the family.

David Spivey, a man with dementia, signed the settlement.

"I'm just disgusted, hurt, sad, none of this had to happen," Knapp said.

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