Dementia-Stricken Man Buys Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, Sale Voided After Complaints From Wife

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

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.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • John John on Mar 16, 2012

    Laws do vary from state to state, but I haven't heard of a state where a doctor can't notify the DMV if he/she thinks a patient is unfit to drive. Here in Florida docs have a form they can fill out and send to the DMV. It doesn't result in the patients losing their license - it triggers an investigation by the DMV, who have the ultimate say in whether the patient can drive or not. As with most public safety issues, HIPPA laws are waived, just like they are for reporting child abuse. If this man really had Lewy body dementia he would have had to have had a brain biopsy to make the diagnosis. If his doctor knew he was demented, the doc would have every reason to notify the DMV. If he/she did not, and the man injured someone in an accident due to his dementia, they doctor could be sued by the injured party for vicarious liability. People with early dementia are usually devastated when their license is cancelled. It's a tragedy all around.

    • Firestorm 500 Firestorm 500 on Mar 16, 2012

      I've never heard of a state that will send a DMV agent to someone's house to confiscate their pocket license. They might keep it when renewal is attempted, or refuse to renew it. Besides, in my state a non-driver ID is accepted anywhere. Yes, people do drive with it.

  • Joe_thousandaire Joe_thousandaire on Mar 16, 2012

    Funny, my wife saw the Murano CC in a comercial and has mentioned several times since how much she liked it. Her mind is as sound as any woman's but I'm sure she has no idea it costs over 60-grand.

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