Tuesday, July 21, 2015
What is the status of ongoing litigation against car manufacturers in the U.S.?
Carbon monoxide carries the dual-risk of being not only one of the most fatal gases to humans, but also one of the most undetectable. Accordingly, several New Jersey plaintiffs have launched a putative class action lawsuit against the Ford Motor Company following the detection of the gas within the vehicle while driving – an allegation the company has vehemently denied publicly, yet allegedly admitted to in private depositions.
The New Jersey class action
was filed in state court in May, 2015, and was removed to the federal court system on July 2, 2015. According to the complaint, the lawsuit involves 2011-2015 Ford Explorers, Edge and MKX models from 2011-2013 with 3.5L and 3.7L TIVCT engines.
Factual allegations against Ford
In a class action, there are generally a handful of plaintiffs chosen as “class representatives” – primarily because their allegations are virtually identical to those of the class as a whole. In this case, two representatives have been elected to spearhead the lawsuit following their noxious experience with at 2014 Ford Explorer. According to the complaint, Stephen Schondel and Linda King-Schondel of Middletown, New Jersey reported to the dealership on several occasions that the inside of the vehicle smelled of exhaust while driving. The dealership not only failed to repair the problem, but did not alert the couple of two prior safety warnings issued by Ford with regard to the possible carbon monoxide problem in select makes and models.
This is not the first carbon monoxide class action faced by Ford, and several other lawsuits are pending in Florida and elsewhere. According to the details of those proceedings, Ford asserts that such a relatively small number of drivers have experienced the problem, that it did not consider it a pressing safety issue. The company also allegedly admitted in a statement to the Better Business Bureau that it was unable to find a remedy for the problem.
These cases predominantly implicate the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Warrant Act, also known as the lemon law.
If you are having problems with a new vehicle and are unable to obtain help from the dealership, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced Lemon Law attorney.
Monday, July 13, 2015
What are my options if a brand new vehicle is emitting an odd odor from the air vents?
At Timothy Abeel and Associates, we work tirelessly on behalf of our clients – no matter how many times the manufacturer insists nothing is wrong. As experienced practitioners of Lemon Law cases, we have fine-tuned our practice to offer the area’s leading representation against manufacturers that refuse to correct defects in their automobiles, as was the case in one of our recent victories against Toyota Motor Sales. If you are experiencing a situation to that described below, be sure to contact our office right away for help in recovering the costs of repairing your vehicle.
Attorney Abeel demands compensation from obstinate manufacturer
Prior to our recent victory versus Toyota, the plaintiff in the case was experiencing a noxious and sickening odor emitting from the air vents of her new car. According to the allegations, the odor was so overwhelming that it caused headaches and nausea for all passengers – including several young children.
In an effort to correct the problem, the plaintiff returned to the Toyota dealership not once, not twice, but on seven separate occasions – all to no avail. Instead of repairing the problem, the dealership insisted the odor was merely a “new car smell” that would eventually dissipate. It didn’t. And neither did the plaintiff’s complaint – which brought her to our office seeking results.
As a client with a difficult motor vehicle situation, we had two options to help her recover the costs of repairing the problem: the Pennsylvania Lemon Law and the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices Act. While both statutes offer plaintiffs the opportunity for compensation, our client’s unique situation required us to use the Unfair Trade Practices Act since the vehicle, while purchased in Pennsylvania, was ultimately registered in Florida. Fortunately, this fact worked in our favor, and the UPTA allowed the judge to award not only the value of lease payments already made, but the entire remaining balance of the lease. In essence, the court found that Toyota had acted recklessly in refusing to repair the plaintiff’s vehicle, and awarded both compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees.
If you need help with a difficult situation involving a new vehicle, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced Lemon Law attorney.
Monday, June 22, 2015
My new car is acting up already. Should I contact a lawyer, or just take it back to the dealer?
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, new car owners are protected from ‘lemons’ under the states’ applicable Lemon Laws. These laws are designed to ensure both domestic and foreign manufacturers are adhering to proper protocol and – most importantly – protecting consumers from unsafe and defective machines.
If you recently purchased a new automobile in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, and are already experiencing an issue, you need a Lemon Law attorney for the following reasons: #4: Free Mechanical Evaluation:
In keeping with its best interests, a dealership or manufacturer will often try to “sweet talk” a new car owner into believing the malfunction or issue is minor, nonexistent, or will not be problematic. This leaves the buyer in a difficult situation, left to decide whether to take this advice at face value or spend hundreds of dollars for a second opinion from a mechanic.
By working with a Lemon Law attorney, a free and independent evaluation by an experienced and knowledgeable mechanic is included in the representation – which will reveal the true underlying issues with the automobile. By using this process, buyers are assured an objective and reliable outcome, which can be used against the manufacturer to demand the necessary repairs. #3: Strong Advocacy:
Automakers represent big industry, big profits, and big intimidation. Going it alone against a global corporate conglomerate will be, at the very least, extremely daunting for the average consumer. At worst, the consumer will be railroaded into accepting sub-par service and forced to pay for some or all of the costs of the repair.
By working with an attorney, buyers can feel empowered that their position – which is fully supported by state law – will be honored and acknowledged. #2: Enhanced Safety:
When buying a new car, safety is one of the top concerns for most consumers. If your new vehicle is exhibiting a defect within the warranty period, chances are the problem will only continue – creating a hazardous and dangerous scenario for both the driver and passengers. A Lemon Law attorney can help rectify the problem as quickly as possible, ensure the repairs are made in a timely manner, and prevent the manufacturer from passing on the costs of its mistakes to the consumer. #1: It’s Free:
Under the Pennsylvania and New Jersey statutes, the manufacturer is required to pay the fees and costs associated with the defective automobile. This includes the mechanic’s labor charges, attorneys’ fees, and any other incidental expenses incurred along the way (i.e., a tow truck or rental). In light of this caveat, the consumer truly has nothing to lose!
If you are in possession of a new automobile that is not working properly, please do not hesitate to contact a Lemon Law attorney today!
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
How do I know if my car has been recalled?
The number of car recalls for repairs in the United States since 2014 stands at almost 100 million. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates almost 74.2 million recalls occurred in 2014. Recall industry experts estimate almost 25 million recalls for 2015. Two highly publicized recalls, Takata air bags and GM's ignition switches, boosted the number of recalls.
According to a leading report, there are roughly 254.7 million cars and trucks operating on the roads in the U.S. today. Safety is a concern because drivers often fail to bring recalled cars for repairs; one estimate is that almost 60 million vehicles with a recall are not repaired. Many vehicles have multiple recalls listed, so the actual number of vehicles affected is not readily available.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.nhtsa.gov) offers a search feature that allows you to look up recall information using a car's vehicle identification number (VIN). The tool provides information about safety recalls conducted over the last 15 years by most manufacturers, including safety recalls that are incomplete on a vehicle. Recently announced recalls (such as the expanded Takata air bag recall) may not appear right away because it takes time for automakers to collect VINs associated with a recall.
A skilled Lemon Law attorney can successfully guide you through lemon law, breach of warranty and fraud cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Monday, June 1, 2015
Why is Ford recalling close to 593,000 vehicles?
Ford has announced that they are recalling half a million vehicles. While the reasons for the recalls vary, the overwhelming problem involves the power assist to the steering, making the vehicle more difficult to turn. This dangerous defect affects Ford Fusions from 2013 to 2015, Lincoln MKZ sedans from the same years, and the 2015 Ford Edge. The bolts used to fasten the steering system in place are prone to rust, particularly in cold weather climates where the cold winters and salted roads make the automobiles more susceptible to corrosion. To save money, the recall is limited to states with cold climates, even though a consumer might have purchased a new car in Alabama in anticipation of a move to Massachusetts.
Two, much smaller recalls have also been issued by Ford. Approximately 50,000 Fords, including 2014 Ford Focuses, Edges, Escapes, Transit Connects, and 2014-15 Ford Fiestas are being recalled because a stalling problem. The manufacturer indicated the problem is a faulty fuel pump. There is also a recall of 22,6000 Lincoln MKZ vehicles because their parking lights are brighter than allowed under federal regulation.
If you purchased a new car with a defect that you have the dealer has been unable to resolve, you should contact a reputable Lemon Law attorney today!
Monday, June 1, 2015
What should people do if they buy a lemon?
Kristine Kovacs of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is at her wits end with the Ford Motor Company. Soon after she purchased her brand new Ford Fiesta in October of 2013, she and her husband repeatedly returned to the dealership due to transmission problems. Sometimes the car hesitates when she tries to pull onto a road. Sometimes the car lurches. Kovacs says she has almost been involved in multiple accidents. “If I had another one to drive, this one would be parked. I won’t go on a highway with it.”
When Kovacs and her husband attempted to get the problem resolved through Ford’s corporate office in April, they were promised a rental car while Ford repaired the transmission, but calls to follow up on the offer were unreturned. The Kovacs family has since retained an attorney to file a claim under Pennsylvania’s lemon law. Lemon laws are designed to protect consumers who purchase or lease vehicles with quality issues.
The Kovacs’ experience is hardly unique. As of May 6, 2015, 231 complaints had been filed with the National Highway Safety Commission about 2013 Ford Fiestas. Almost 75% of the complaints concerned the transmission, which was the same issue the Kovacs family had. Ford has written letters to their dealers indicating that “some of the affected vehicles may exhibit intermittent symptoms of loss of transmission engagement while driving, no-start, or a lack of power,” but Ford is not issuing a recall for this issue.
Thousands of complaints are filed every year by consumers who claim that their vehicles are defective. If you have purchased a car that you believe is a lemon, contact a Lemon Law attorney today!
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Japan's Takata Corporation has finally conceded, after a decade, that its airbags are defective, and has recalled almost 34 million vehicles - that's 1 in 7 vehicles on American roadways.
Six deaths and 100 injuries have been linked to the problem of exploding airbags.
Unfortunately this massive recall puts consumers in a very dangerous position and an alarming waiting game.
Takata has to make 33.8 million replacement parts, and at current production rates, it would take about 2 1/2 years for Takata to do that on its own. And as we learned today, even getting confirmation on whether your car is impacted isn't easy.
Under this historic recall are many Hondas, but also vehicles from ten other top automakers.
Could yours be one of them?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has set up Safercar.gov so you can put in your VIN to see if your car's under the recall. But the agency says the site won't be fully up and running until next week!
The VINs have to come from the carmakers, and NHTSA doesn't even have most of the numbers from them yet.
Consumer Lemon Law attorney Timothy Abeel says, "Consumers should first call their dealership to see whether their vehicle is subject to that recall."
Action News tried calling and live chatting with a few local dealerships today. During our live chats, and at least one phone call, we were told someone from the service departments would get back to us, but we're still waiting for those calls.
One service representative at a local Toyota dealership confirmed that the dealership doesn't have repair or replacements parts, and he told me this recall has been "overblown by the media!"
The advice here? Keep on calling until you get someone willing to help you. And until your airbag is fixed or replaced, ask for a rental.
Abeel says, "The consumer should absolutely demand for the loaner car."
Experts we talked to today say whether to disable defective airbags is a question for your dealer or automaker.
There are a couple things that could help speed up the process of getting replacement parts.
Honda, Takata's largest customer, has lined up other companies to make replacement inflators. And Takata now says it is also working with other suppliers.
It also tells us today it has made 3.8-million replacement inflators so far - just a fraction of the nearly 34 million that are needed.
Monday, May 18, 2015
I recently purchased a used vehicle in Pennsylvania after the dealer promised me that the parts were “like new.” One month later, the fuel system and transmission needed to be replaced. What can I do?
Under Pennsylvania laws, buyers and sellers of used automobiles are typically bound by the language contained in the purchase agreement. During any sale for the purchase of goods, sellers often make promises – known as “express warranties” – that may be binding upon proof of the conversation. However, in most scenarios, it is difficult for parties to prove exactly what was said at the time of purchase – prompting most courts to rely solely on the written language in the agreement.
Express warranties that are listed in the purchase agreement will be binding on the seller, regardless of what the he or she claims was said during the exchange. In this scenario, an express warranty guaranteeing “like new” parts will undoubtedly work in the favor of the buyer in the event of a breakdown shortly after purchase. If the warrant contains a time or mileage limit, this will control over any oral promises to contrary as well.
One crucial component of a used car purchase agreement is the “as is” clause. Many times, car dealers make wild promises to entice the buyer to make a purchase, only to throw in an “as is” clause, preventing the buyer from making any claims for repairs after purchase. In many cases, buyers will be stuck with this clause, and will be required to make costly repairs themselves. However, if the buyer can prove that the seller somehow engaged in conduct to hide or diminish the “as is” clause during the transaction, the court may rule it unenforceable and require the seller to make necessary repairs.
Lastly, a concept known as “implied warranties of merchantability” may apply to the situation, which warrants the vehicle is fit for its particular purpose (i.e., driving). If the purchase agreement is silent as to the implied warranties, the buyer may be able to sue for damages under this concept, unless the seller has disclaimed this warranty – which must be clearly stated on the purchase agreement in 20-point font and clearly affixed to the window of the vehicle.
If you are facing a difficult situation following a recent used vehicle purchase, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced Lemon Law attorney today!
Sunday, May 17, 2015
Interesting discussion as to why Australia needs tougher lemon laws. If you can't watch the whole video start at the 5:42 mark for the most relevant portions:
- Ford Focus
The Ford Focus's dual clutch transmission remains an embarrassment - but what is worse is the way Ford Focus owners are routinely, systematically brushed off by Ford Dealers.
- Ashton Wood's Jeep Cherokee
Mr Wood had no less that 22 critical defects in his $50,000 Jeep Cherokee. The first started on day one, and the last ended when he destroyed his Jeep very publicly as a publicity stunt to highlight the need for tougher lemon laws.
- Audi's 2.0 TFSI engine
When Audi mis-managed the design of the 2.0 TFSI engine to the extent that it drinks oil excessively, did they apologise and repair it? No - they merely said the vehicle's thirst was the new 'normal' and gave affected customers the brush
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Is my Nissan safe to drive?
Nissan North America recently extended a recall of Nissan Altimas between model years 2013 and 2015. Initially the recall only affected about 220,000 vehicles, but now 625,000 cars have been recalled, and that number may continue to rise as Nissan continues to investigate the problem. The affected vehicles were manufactured between March 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014. Nissan tentatively reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that vehicles manufactured after December 31, 2014 were not affected.
The problem in these vehicles that prompted the recall is that the hood latch is faulty. When the hood release is activated from inside the car, the hood normally remains closed until the secondary latch is pushed manually. This safety feature is important to ensure that the hood is not opened while the car is running. If this were to happen, it would obstruct the driver’s view and create an incredibly dangerous driving condition. Depending on the speed of the driver, even if the faulty latch does not result in a collision, the hood, the windshield, or both could be damaged.
In the affected vehicles, the secondary hood latch could remain in the unlatched position when the hood is closed. The danger is that if the primary latch is released, the hood can open while the car is being driven.
Nissan reportedly was not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this hood latch issue.
If your new vehicle has a defect and you have not been able to resolve the issue with the dealer, call a Lemon Law attorney today!
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Is There a Lemon Law That Covers Used Cars?
Pennsylvania and New Jersey Lemon Laws cover new vehicles. The federal Moss Magnuson Warranty Act gives rights to consumers purchasing items (tangible personal property normally used for personal, family or household purposes including used cars) that come with warranties. If that used car you bought came with a warranty, you may have some legal protections.
The law requires manufacturers and sellers of consumer products to provide consumers with detailed information about warranty coverage (including consumers’ rights and the obligations of sellers under written warranties). Armed with this information, consumers should know what to expect if the item breaks down and be able to be more easily compare warranties and better judge what they want to buy.
The law encourages sellers to promote their products based on warranty coverage with the hope this promotion and market competition may result in improved warranties. While the law makes it easier for purchasers to seek a remedy in the courts if the warranty is breached, sellers can set up a system for inexpensive and informal dispute resolution as a way to avoid litigation.
There are limits on the Magnuson Moss Act, including:
• Warranties are not required, but if one is offered, it must comply with the law.
• Only written warranties are covered, not oral warranties (verbal promises to cover repairs).
• Warranties on services are not covered, but if your warranty covers parts needed for a repair and the workmanship in making that repair, the law applies.
• The law does not apply to warranties for vehicles sold for commercial purposes, only consumer purchases.
If the warranty or the law is violated, consumers can sue as individuals or as part of a class action. A violation can be the failure to honor a written warranty or any implied warranty created by state law or failing to follow requirements of the law or its regulations. If a seller is found to be in violation, "(d)amages and other legal and equitable relief" are available under the law and a successful consumer could be awarded attorney’s fees and costs but not punitive damages.
If you purchased a used vehicle that came with a warranty and believe that warranty, or the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, has been violated, contact an experienced Lemon Law attorney today!
Lemon Law News
Timothy J. Abeel & Associates, P.C. represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, cities include but are not limited to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, Newark, and Trenton.