Ed Dowdall, a 70-year-old San Jose area resident with a rare form of dementia that causes wildly unstable cognitive functioning and hallucinations, walked into a dealer and traded in his 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid for a Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, which retailed for $62,000. A series of protests and complaints from Dowdall’s wife led to the dealer taking back the car and voiding the sale.
Greg Dexter, owner of the Nissan dealership where Dowdall purchased the car, said that Dowdall had come into the showroom in December to look at the Murano. Dowdall had previously purchased an Altima Hybrid from his store, North Bay Nissan, and had it serviced there. Dexter said he had no indication of Dowdall’s condition at the time of purchase.
Dowdall’s estranged wife, Amy Appleton Dowdall, told the San Jose Mercury that Dowdall had been living with his brother at the time. The previous evening, he had threatened to kill her. Dowdall’s brother accompanied her to a local police station to report the incident the next morning – around the same time when Ed Dowdall went to the dealer to purchase the car.
That afternoon, Ed Dowdall and Dexter drove to Amy Appleton Dowdall’s home, with Dexter coming along at Ed’s request. Ed had mentioned during the transaction that she would be unhappy over the purchase – Amy claims that in hindsight, she should have demanded that the car be returned that day, but she did not want to upset Ed.
A battle involving the dealership, attorneys and Ed Dowdall’s doctor (who certified that Dowdall suffered from the condition) led to Dexter taking back the car without conditions and refunding the money. Dexter claims that negative publicity and even death threats have resulted from the ordeal.
Given Dowdall’s behavior, there’s little doubt that he suffers from a horrible debilitating condition – and the erratic nature of his cognitive functions means that unlike Alzheimer’s disease, Dowdall can swing from cogent, lucid functioning to the opposite extreme, including violent or irrational behavior. In light of this (and having seen first hand how these diseases can ravage a loved one) it’s tough to make a joke out of the whole situation, even when the vehicle in question is a Murano CrossCabriolet.