Toyota is currently taking legal action against Sally Shafton, an 81-year-old widow, for fees associated with her husband's "early cancellation" of his lease, The Los Angeles Times reported. The reason for his early cancellation? Death at 83 from prostate cancer.
Bob Shafton leased a Prius from a Manhattan Beach, Calif. Toyota dealership nine months before he died. Sally told the L.A. Times that a salesman assured Bob if he died it would interrupt the lease. After he passed in December, Sally contacted Toyota Financial Services to explain the situation and inform them that they could come and pick up the car. A few weeks later, a Toyota employee came out to her home and took it back.
Sally thought the lease was over and done with until she received a bill from Toyota seeking $2,352.72 from Bob's estate. Bob owed three years worth of lease payments, or $27,470, on the Prius when he died. After taking it back, Toyota put the barely used car up for auction, where it sold for $23,800. Bob's estate was expected and legally bound to pay the difference, plus a $225 charge for retrieval and $83 for "reconditioning" the car.
"Recondition?" Shafton exclaimed to the Times. "It was a new car that we'd had for only nine months. And Bob was so ill he rarely drove it."
Sally was contacted by the law firm Weltman, Weinberg & Reis on behalf of Toyota. While Sally herself is not on the hook, as she wasn't on the lease, Toyota seems determined to get their $2,352.52 from her dead husband's estate, which is everything Sally and Bob had built over 60 years.
"The estate is me," she told the Times. "Everything in the estate has gone to me."