BEFORE WALKER, DAN LEE AND SULLIVAN
SULLIVAN, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:
We are asked in this case to reexamine the historical shield which the law throws around a minor to protect him by reason of his youth and inexperience from the consequences of entering into a contract with an adult. Kevin Green, a minor from Ocean Springs, disaffirmed a contract for purchase of a 1979 Camaro after the car developed problems. Star Chevrolet Company,
Wiggins, Mississippi, refused to return his money unless the vehicle was restored to its original condition. Kevin, through his father, filed suit for rescission of the auto sales contract in the Circuit Court of Stone County. While suit was pending, the Camaro was involved in an accident, rendering it a total loss. The insurance company paid the loss to Kevin, who transferred title to the insurance company for salvage value under the contract.
Star Chevrolet Company obtained a transfer of the proceedings to chancery court. From the decision in favor of the minor, Star Chevrolet appeals, assigning that the chancellor erred in:
I. Failing to grant a motion for summary judgment, since appellee's pleadings were not reformed when this matter was transferred from circuit to chancery court;
II. Finding that the vehicle in question was a luxury and not a necessity to the minor;
III. Finding that a tender had been made by the minor sufficient to require repayment; and
IV. Finding that the car had been "wasted" by the minor, making it unnecessary for him to return the car or its equivalent in order to rescind the contract.
For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
Kevin Green was 16 years old, about 5'4 "tall, and weighed about 115 pounds on August 14, 1981, when he purchased the Camaro from Star Chevrolet. He was accompanied by a Mr. McGillivray, a family friend, who helped negotiate the purchase of the car. Title to the Camaro was in Kevin's name, and the $4,642.50 purchase price was drawn from his savings and from loans from a bank and his grandmother. The question of Kevin's age was not raised by himself or the dealership. It is undisputed that, at the time of sale, Kevin did not falsely represent himself to be of full age; therefore Star Chevrolet contracted with him at its peril. Cf. Johnson v. McAdory, 228 Miss. 453, 88 So.2d 106 (1956).
Kevin brought the car back to Star Chevrolet to repair several problems. He later discovered that the front end of the frame was bent, and that the car contained a Pontiac 305 hp. engine instead of the Chevrolet 350
hp. engine that it was supposed to have.
Some time prior to November, 1981, Green's Camaro became inoperable due to a blown head gasket. The disabled car was parked in front of his Ocean Springs home for some four or five months. On November 16, 1981, Green, through his attorney, Fred Mannino, informed Star Chevrolet that, as a minor, he was disaffirming the contract and demanding the return of the funds he paid for the automobile. On December 11, 1981, Mannino wrote Star Chevrolet that" Kevin is willing to return the automobile for a full refund of his money. "Star Chevrolet would not accept the car unless it was restored to its original condition. Therefore, suit was filed on the minor's behalf on January 27, 1982, in the Circuit Court of Stone County.
The car sat up for four or five months in the middle of Kevin's senior year in high school. Finally, Kevin fixed the head gasket himself and, having obtained insurance, began to drive the car again. In June, 1982, the Camaro was destroyed in an accident. The insurance company paid Kevin $5100 under the policy and he signed title to the vehicle over to the insurance company for salvage value.
On June 30, 1982, the circuit court granted a motion in limine ordering Star Chevrolet to refrain from offering any evidence relating to any insurance coverage or proceeds paid for the physical damage to the automobile. The court ordered that insurance was irrelevant to this action and no reference should be made thereto.
Star Chevrolet moved the circuit court to transfer the cause to chancery court because the case involves the rights of a minor and allegations by Star Chevrolet of unjust enrichment. The circuit court sustained this motion and the case was transferred to chancery court on July 2, 1982.
A motion to expedite the refiling of the complaint and answer and to set a trial date was filed on behalf of the minor, pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. 11-1-39, alleging that a trial date had been set and the parties were poised for a trial prior to transfer. Star Chevrolet answered by alleging that Green had failed to reform his pleadings within 30 ...