What are the consequences if a manufacturer or retailer does not follow the applicable lemon law?
Lemon law claims are not always as straightforward as one would like. Sometimes, a small related issue can complicate a claim so much that a court must intervene. This is exactly what happened in a recent case coming out of Wisconsin.
In 2007, Paccar, Inc. sold a brand new Kenworth truck to James Michael Leasing Company for approximately $135,000. James Michael used the truck for about 3,000 miles before discovering that is was defective and making a claim under Wisconsin’s lemon law. Paccar agreed to repurchase the truck for $135,847 plus interest. What Paccar refused to refund was a $53 title fee paid by James Michael. The dispute over this fee intensified the conflict between the parties so much that Paccar attempted to refund James Michael less money by claiming that it was entitled to a use allowance.
James Michael brought a lawsuit in a Wisconsin court. The state court awarded the company $369,196 in damages and another $157,697 in attorneys’ fees. The award, totaling over $500,000, is nearly four times the original purchase price of the truck. The case was appealed and recently the 7th Circuit Court affirmed the state court ruling. The court found that under Wisconsin law Paccar had a duty to issue a refund within 30 days of either the amount requested by the consumer or an amount determined to be appropriate by the company. They held that the dispute over the nominal title fee was not enough to excuse Paccar from its statutory duty and that assurance that it would issue the refund was not enough. The court noted that the judgment was large but appropriate due to the fact that Wisconsin’s lemon law favors the consumer.
If your vehicle is defective, you might think that it is a good idea to attempt to make a lemon law claim on your own. This is not the case. These cases can become complicated quickly and it is therefore important to have a seasoned advocate on your side. If you live in or around the Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Trenton areas, contact an experienced lemon law attorney today!