BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559, 12 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

The result is a patchwork of rules representing the diverse policy judgments of lawmakers in 50 States.

That diversity demonstrates that reasonable people may disagree about the value of a full disclosure requirement. Some legislatures may conclude that affirmative disclosure requirements are unnecessary because the self-interest of those involved in the automobile trade in developing and maintaining the goodwill of their customers will motivate them to make voluntary disclosures or to refrain from selling cars that do not comply with self-imposed standards. Those legislatures that do adopt affirmative disclosure obligations may take into account the cost of government regulation, choosing to draw a line exempting minor repairs from such a requirement. In formulating a disclosure standard, States may also consider other goals, such as providing a "safe harbor" for automobile manufacturers, distributors, and dealers against lawsuits over minor repairs.14

We may assume, arguendo, that it would be wise for every State to adopt Dr. Gore's preferred rule, requiring full disclosure of every presale repair to a car, no matter how trivial and regardless of its actual impact on the value of the car.

quires dealers to disclose paint repair costing more than $100 of which they have actual knowledge. Fla. Stat. 320.27(9)(n) (1992). Oregon requires manufacturers to disclose all "postmanufacturing" damage and repairs. It is unclear whether this mandate would apply to repairs such as those at issue here. Ore. Rev. Stat. 650.155 (1991).

Many, but not all, of the statutes exclude from the computation of repair cost the value of certain components—typically items such as glass, tires, wheels and bumpers—when they are replaced with identical manufacturer's original equipment. E. g., Cal. Veh. Code Ann. 9990-9991 (West Supp. 1996); Ga. Code Ann. 40-1-5(b)-(e) (1994); Ill. Comp. Stat., ch. 815, 710/5 (1994); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. 190.0491(5) (Baldwin 1988); Okla. Stat., Tit. 47, 1112.1 (1991); Va. Code Ann. 46.2-1571(D) (Supp. 1995); Vt. Stat. Ann., Tit. 9, 4087(d) (1993).

14 Also, a state legislature might plausibly conclude that the administrative costs associated with full disclosure would have the effect of raising car prices to the State's residents.

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