Facts: D was the owner of a 1979 Rolls Royce. He sold the car to one who claimed to
be Bellman. Bellman wrote a cashier’s check in the amount of $94,500. D dated and
signed the Ill. Certificate of Title and filled in the name “Executive Jet Leasing” on the
transferee line. D later found that the check had been forged and reported the vehicle as
stolen. Bellman (then pretending to be Coghill (D)) put an ad in a magazine for a “1980”
Rolls Royce and sold the car to P for 62k. After inspecting the car, P was surprised to
find the cost of the car, he wondered about the year, which was explained by Bellman as
a misprint. P requested ID from Bellman who produced a NH driver’s license, P did not
question the disparity of addresses on the license and the title. He purchased the car and
Bellman crossed out “Executive Jet Leasing” and replaced it with “Landshire Food
Service.”
Issue: Was P a bona fide purchaser as such that his claim is protected against the original
owner?
Holding: Affirmed the judgment of the trial court, which held in favor of the original
owner in the buyers’ action.
Rationale:
– A statute states: In the event of a sale or transfer of ownership of a car for which
certificate of ownership has been issued, the holder of such certificate shall
endorse on the same an assignment thereof…and deliever the same to the buyer at
the time of the delivery to him of said car. To be valid the certificate must be
signed by the registered owner.
– There is an exception that allows a bona fide purchaser may retain ownership of a
car even if the car was originally gained through fraud. However, in MO, a
certificate of title is not conclusive proof of ownership but is only prima facie
evidence of ownership.
– A bona fide purchaser is one who pays valuable consideration, has not notice of
the outstanding rights of others and who acts in good faith
– A buyer will not be protected where he is put on notice of the irregularities in the
seller’s title by defects in the face of the certificate or other circumstances. In this
case, there is ample evidence that P should have been put on notice of the strange
nature of the title and seller and is therefore not to be considered a bona fide
purchaser
Bona Fide purchasers of personal property
1. Fraud
2. Entrustment
3. Money and negotiable instruments