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Car Dealer Takes Back Fancy Dementia Impulse Buy

Last updated: Mar 13, 2012

Nissan Murano Convertible
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A loss of impulse control can be a feature of Lewy body dementia and some of its treatments. Apparently, that's what led a California man to purchase a $62,000 sports car without his family's knowledge last December -- but the car dealer is now taking the car back without penalty, reports Silicon Valley Mercury

Greg Dexter, owner of North Bay Nissan in Petaluma, California, says his staff had little reason to believe that 70-year-old Ed Dowdall was impaired. He said car dealers are prohibited from selling vehicles to people they suspect are under the influence of drugs, attempting a fraud, or exhibiting other red flags, but none of these conditions seemed to apply to this buyer, who had walked in asking to buy a convertible Nissan Murano off the showroom floor. He had the right paperwork. And he'd been a previous customer there in 2008.

His family, however, says he suffers from Lewy body dementia and was in no position to buy the car or make the $923 monthly payments. He'd had brain surgery in October to help ease Parkinson's symptoms, but a statement from his doctor explained that since then, he'd shown an escalation of temper, a total loss of insight into his condition, and a lessening of impulse control.

The night before the purchase, the report says, the man had threatened to kill his wife and had kicked several holes in the wall in a rage; she and his brother were at the police station while he was out buying the car.

The family wishes they'd demanded he take the Murano back to the dealership on the day he bought it. But his wife, Appleton Dowdall, "didn't want to upset him," the report said. He's now living in a group home and doesn't know she's been trying to return the car.

The dealership says it's the first time it's ever been accused of selling a vehicle "to someone who wasn't in their right mind." After a bit of back and forthing involving the bank, an attorney, and a newspaper article, the mess has been sorted out and the white Murano is going back where it came from.

But given escalating rates of dementia -- including many that feature a loss of impulse control -- you wonder if this won't be the last time such a mix-up happens.

Image by Flickr user saebaryo, used under a Creative Commons license.