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Car Dealer Sued For Smelly SUV That May Have Once Held Dead Body (VIDEO)

First Posted: 12/06/11 11:18 AM ET Updated: 12/07/11 10:11 AM ET

A couple from New Baltimore, Mich., is raising a stink with a car dealership for selling an SUV with what they say is a terrible odor -- and they believe it may have been caused by a dead body.

In March, Ruben and Margarita Salais purchased a 2006 Ford Explorer from Suburban Ford of Sterling Heights for $14,000. At first they thought they were getting a great deal, even if the SUV had a slight odor.

According to their lawyer, Dani Liblang, the couple noticed that off-putting odor grew worse as the weather warmed. Much worse.

"I got to smell it today," Liblang told HuffPost Weird News. "It smells like something rotted. It stinks to high heaven. Even the dealer thought it was a dead animal. They even offered a gas mask to my client after they refused to take the car back."

Jim Elder, manager of the car dealership, suggested instead that the stinky situation was a matter for the couple's insurance company.

"We had the car for 90 days on our lot, and we fixed it up and never noticed the smell," he told HuffPost Weird News. "They had the car 90 days before they came back. Basically, that was six months with no report of the smell."

But when the couple's insurance company, State Farm, was pulled in, things really started smelling funny, Liblang said.

"The insurance company did an investigation of the history of the vehicle, which showed that the car had been used as a rental vehicle and been stolen three times," she said. "But this was never reported to my clients."

Even more shocking was a hazmat team's finding about the source of the smell: According to the investigation, the smell was of "human origin."

The Salaises sued the car dealership on Nov. 1 for an unspecified amount "above $25,000" for failing to disclose that the vehicle had been a daily rental, had been stolen and recovered, and had previously contained a decomposed human body.

Elder said that his business is on the side of the customers, that the SUV was purchased from a reputable dealer, and that the Carfax report that came with it did not mention any thefts. He also noted that the dead body allegation is unproven.

"The hazmat team told me they couldn't prove a dead body had been there and said it might be a rotting steak," Elder said. "We want to make things right, but the [dead body] claim is something that hasn't been investigated."

Liblang was unaware of any criminal investigation related to the Explorer, but subpoenas have been sent to local police departments to try to determine what happened in that SUV, which she speculated was involved in a murder, according to Detroit.CBSLocal.com.

"I would think that's the only explanation," she said. "The hazmat company has said they found traces of blood."

Liblang hopes that the attention being paid to the case locally inspires the dealership to either buy back the car or exchange it for another vehicle.