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!
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Can a consumer who bought a defective automobile be required to waive the right to bring a lawsuit under the New Jersey Lemon Law?
All too often, consumer contracts make it hard for purchasers to bring an action for fraud, breach of contract or other wrongdoing by a seller. When buying a new or used automobile, consumers are sometimes required to waive their rights to file a lawsuit and instead must accept provisions forcing them to resolve disputes through arbitration.
A recent New Jersey bill would change that. The proposed amendment to the state's Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act would bar consumer contracts from limiting a consumer's right to sue without the consumer's permission. Among other rights that could not be waived or limited in a consumer contract under the proposed bill, consumers would retain their right to bring lawsuits under the New Jersey Lemon Law, the Consumer Fraud Act and other federal and state consumer protection statutes.
The new law would penalize stores and dealers that give consumers contracts that obligate the consumer to waive his or her legal rights. The contract could be deemed void and, in addition to damages and lawyers' fees, the violator would have to pay the consumer $100.
Business groups oppose the bill claiming that it violates the Federal Arbitration Act and is unenforceable. Pro-consumer groups, however, support the bill, noting the growing practice of car dealerships and other companies to force consumers into arbitration to settle claims over defective cars and "lemons." Consumers who are able to avoid arbitration and avail themselves of the New Jersey Lemon Law may get a more favorable outcome.
A skilled Lemon Law can successfully guide you through lemon law, breach of warranty and fraud cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Contact us today at (888)830-1474 to learn more.
Friday, March 13, 2015
What type of problem can be the basis for a lemon law claim?
With the great advances in the automotive field, it is always hard to believe when there is a mass defect in a certain type of vehicle or part. Unfortunately, this happens more than we realize and affects some of the most widely purchased brands. For example, in the recent past, certain Toyota vehicles were defective in a way that made them accelerate on their own. This was very dangerous and led to multiple deaths. If a vehicle is defective, the consumer may have a lemon law claim, even if the defect is a widespread one affecting many different vehicles of the same make or model.
One of the world’s most popular automakers, Honda, is currently experiencing a widespread issue. Many consumers have complained that their new Honda CR-V is vibrating defectively. The complaints usually include claims that the car shakes and vibrates while it is idling and/or being driven. Some cases are more severe than others, with some customers claiming a mild annoyance and others citing a safety concern.
This vibration issue is affecting a lot of people and has been evidenced by traffic on Internet forums and formal complaints. Over ten grievances have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some claiming that the vehicle is unsafe as the vibration is distracting to the driver. While it is unclear what is actually causing the problem, a representative from Honda has expressed that the company does not believe that it is the engine, as other models utilize the same one. It seems more likely that it is the transmission, at least according to reports to the NHTSA. Honda is looking into the issue further.
Lemon laws vary from state to state. But, it is generally the case that if a defect makes a vehicle unsafe or causes it to be out of service for a certain period of time, that the lemon law applies and provides a remedy for the consumer. While it is unclear at this time whether the vibration issue causes the CR-V to be dangerous or impaired, Honda may be facing a slew of lemon lawsuits in the near future.
A skilled Lemon Law attorney can represent consumers with lemon law claims in the Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Trenton areas. If you think that your vehicle might be defective in some way, call a reputable Lemon Law attorney today!
Friday, February 20, 2015
Is my Chevy SUV safe to drive?
Dangerous SUVs and defective tires have cost hundreds of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The most infamous cases involved Ford SUVs and Firestone tires. These cases arose in the 1990s and early 2000s, but a new issue has come to light involving General Motors (GM) SUVs and Goodyear tires.
GM has told its dealers to stop selling nearly 6,300 of its 2015 Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave SUVs because of problems with tires that will be recalled by Goodyear in February. The tire company plans to recall 48,500 tires. About 32,100 of the tires went to GM's full-size crossovers; the rest are spare tires with the vehicles.
Goodyear states it is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and GM on the issue. Once Goodyear issues its official recall, GM will also issue a recall for the affected vehicles. Until the recall is official, GM is stopping the sale of the affected vehicles that were sent to dealers with the tires in question. GM has not ceased production of the vehicles, but it is equipping all with other tires.
Goodyear plans to recall about 48,500 Fortera HL 18 inch tires, size P255/65R18 109S, manufactured from November 30 through January 10. Small cracks could appear in the tread, according to Goodyear, which found that a tire did not pass a routine endurance test. The company insists it is not a safety issue, and GM claims to have no reports of tire-related accidents or problems.
If you have a 2015 Chevy Traverse with these tires on them, Goodyear is telling consumers to replace the tires at any of their retail stores, authorized GM dealer or at their original point of purchase. The tires should be replaced for free with a similar tire. Goodyear's Customer Service is available to handle any questions.
If your new vehicle has defective tires or other parts, and you have not been able to resolve the issue with your dealer, contact a skilled Lemon Law attorney today!
Monday, January 19, 2015
Why Did Honda Pay $70 Million in Fines?
Earlier this year, Honda was found to have violated federal safety reporting rules. As a result of having been found to have violated the law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that Honda agreed to increase their oversight of safety issues, enhance a third-party audit system and pay two $35 million fines.
The fines are the maximum amount NHTSA can assess for safety reporting violations. The first fine concerns the company’s failure to report 1,729 death and injury claims to NHTSA from 2003 to 2014. Honda had disclosed the undercount in the past, stating its investigation discovered that it misunderstood what issues needed to be counted. The second fine involves Honda's failing to report warranty claims and claims under "customer satisfaction campaigns." Honda quietly agreed to fix defects on cars during these “campaigns” even when they were beyond the warranty period, from 2003 to 2014.
NHTSA, which is part of the Department of Transportation, claims these fines show it is getting tougher on automakers. In May the agency gave General Motors (GM) a $35 million fine for late reporting on ignition switch defects in Chevrolet Cobalts. Millions of cars with potentially defective switches were recalled. GM is paying compensation to accident victims claiming they were injured as a result of the defect. The switches are also blamed for accidents causing 40 deaths, according to USA Today.
Last year was a great one for the NHTSA, as the agency issued $126 million in civil penalties, which it says is a record. It claims the total exceeded all the fines and penalties collected by the agency in its prior 43 year history.
Whether you have a Honda, Chevy or other make of car that you feel is defective, call a lemon law attorney for a consultation today.
Monday, January 5, 2015
When can a car dealership be held responsible for violating the lemon law?
It is no secret that car dealerships can be resistant to lemon law claims. Taking back a vehicle they have sold and returning the money paid for it is a less than ideal situation for these parties. But, car dealers are bound by the lemon law of the state in which they operate and they must afford customers the appropriate accommodations if they claim that a vehicle is a lemon.
A Louisiana Chevy dealer has recently been accused of violating the lemon law. Mite Meggs, Jr. and Corrine Meggs purchased a new 2014 Corvette from Lesson Chevrolet Company
in 2013. The couple agreed to a purchase price of $56,135, traded in a used car and financed the remaining portion of the cost. Approximately 6 months later the vehicle began malfunctioning and the couple brought it into the dealer to be serviced. The dealer informed them that the engine and transmission would need to be replaced. The couple claims that at this point they came to an agreement with the dealer to trade in the car for a newer model with a different engine. But, when they received the car, which they had to pay extra for, that it had the same engine. The Meggs claim that they then requested that the dealer refund the money they paid and allow them to return the car but that this request was denied.
The couple subsequently filed a lemon lawsuit against Lesson claiming that they had violated the Louisiana lemon law in that Lesson failed to accommodate them by repairing the vehicle or taking any other action required by law. The Meggs have requested that the dealer return the payments they made on the car and the value of the vehicle they traded in as well as various other fees and costs that were incurred.
Although the above case relates to the State of Louisiana, every state has its own version of lemon and/or consumer protection laws. If you have purchased or leased a vehicle and believe that it is a lemon, you should speak with a qualified attorney right away.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
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!
Monday, December 1, 2014
Lemon law cases have the potential to become contentious, especially when the subject of the suit is an exotic car with a high price tag. Also, if the automaker starts making allegations against the consumer, the case might become more adversarial in nature. The California auto-maker Tesla has recently been involved in a lemon lawsuit where allegations of tampering were made against a purchaser.
Robert Montgomery, a Wisconsin doctor, purchased an electric Tesla Model S in March of 2013. Within a short period of time the car was out of service for 66 days. Montgomery claimed that the car would not start or shift into gear. He also claimed that the battery cooling system was faulty and that the door handles did not work, among other things. Every time the car needed to be repaired it had to be brought to Chicago as there are no Tesla service centers in Wisconsin.
Montgomery retained a Milwaukee attorney and brought a lemon law case against the automaker. While the defendant was initially quiet, they eventually made a statement on the manufacturer website claiming that the owner tampered with the car. The defendant claimed that Montgomery tampered with a fuse in the vehicle causing electrical problems. The automaker has also claimed to do everything they could to assist the consumer.
Montgomery and his attorney denied all of the tampering accusations and continued to pursue a settlement. Their efforts paid off as Tesla recently agreed to a repurchase. The automaker agreed to buy back the vehicle for almost $127,000 and to pay attorneys fees of almost $19,000.
If you believe that your car is a lemon, you should contact an experienced attorney to evaluate your claim. While lemon law cases can be pursued without the assistance of an attorney, they rarely go far without legal counsel.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
If you purchase a vehicle and it is defective in some way you may be entitled to a repurchase (full refund) or replacement under the lemon law. But, half the battle in obtaining this relief is dealing with the manufacturer. These parties know what they can and cannot get away with when it comes to individuals attempting to enforce their lemon law rights. Sometimes, it is amazing what a difference being represented by an experienced attorney can make.
A great example of success after retaining counsel in a lemon law claim is the case of a one of our clients who had serious problems with a vehicle that had recently been purchased. The client went through the required process without representation and ended up submitting to informal arbitration with the manufacturer. The arbitrator decided against the client. After seriously considering just dealing with the defect, the client finally decided to contact and attorney and retained Timothy Abeel & Associates as counsel. We were able to get the vehicle repurchased for a full refund.
Sometimes, hiring an attorney can even help when the individual does not have any lemon law rights. One of our clients had a seven (7) year old vehicle with a dangerous power loss defect. Even though the client was outside the lemon law claim period, our attorneys were able to get the vehicle repurchased for a full refund.
Lemon law cases are complicated and it is therefore important that you retain a skilled attorney as opposed to attempting to handle the matter on your own. While these results are not typical and no outcome is guaranteed, hiring an attorney works in your favor more often than not.
if you believe that your automobile is a lemon, don't hesitate to contact a reputable lemon law attorney for a consultation.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Automobile lemon laws are enacted to protect consumers from the costs and dangers associated with defective vehicles. In most states, there is a lemon law presumption written into the law. A legal presumption exists when a particular conclusion will be made when certain facts exist. In the case of automobile lemon laws, a vehicle is presumed to be a lemon if it meets certain standards.
These standards vary from state to state. In New Jersey
a vehicle is presumed to be a lemon if the vehicle has either been in the shop for inspection or repair three (3) or more times (for the same problem) or has been out of service for twenty (20) days or more (for any and all warranty problems), with the first instance occurring within two (2) years or 24,000 miles of the vehicle being received by the original consumer. These laws apply to automobiles and motorcycles purchased, leased or registered in New Jersey.
In Pennsylvania, a similar presumption exists applicable to vehicles purchased, leased or registered in the state. These vehicles are presumed to be lemons if they are brought in for three (3) or more repairs (for the same problem) or are out of service for thirty (30) days (for any and all warranty problems), with the first occurrence within 1 year or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. The Pennsylvania Lemon Law does not apply to motorcycles or motor homes.
If the vehicle you purchased, leased or registered in either state meets the requirements to qualify for the presumption, you will be entitled to have the manufacturer repurchase or replace the vehicle.
Be aware, it is a common misconception that the lemon law presumption is the only way to recover for a defective vehicle under the law. If your vehicle does not meet the requirements to qualify for the presumption, you may still be eligible for compensation. Even if you are outside the time and mileage requirements, you may still be entitled to repurchase or replacement by the manufacturer. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to achieve these results on your own. It is in your best interest to retain an experienced lemon law attorney to evaluate your case and deal with the manufacturer.
If you believe your vehicle is defective, and live in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, contact an experienced Lemon Law attorney for a consultation today.
Friday, October 10, 2014
New Jersey state law protects consumers against fraud. Nevertheless, fraud still happens and when a consumer is the victim they may have recourse under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. As a recent case illustrates, complaints of this kind are handled by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and can often lead to compensation.
A used luxury car dealership, 21st Century Auto Group, Inc. of Springfield, New Jersey, was the subject of over 40 consumer complaints. In 2013, the Division of Consumer Affairs decided to file a lawsuit against them. The Division asserted that the dealership had broken multiple laws including the Consumer Fraud Act, Lemon Law, advertising and sales rules. Customers had various specific complaints. They claimed that the business deceived them by omitting that the vehicles they were interested in had been rental cars or were damaged in an accident. They also claimed that the business engaged in deceptive advertising practices by refusing to sell certain vehicles for the advertised price as well drawing customers in with an advertisement of a vehicle that had already been sold and then trying to sell them another. It was also alleged that the business was slow to accommodate customers who decided they did not want the vehicle they had contracted for and requested the return of their trade-in or deposit.
The dealership decided to settle with the Division of Consumer Affairs. They agreed to pay $130,000 including civil penalties, attorney’s fees and reimbursement to the state for its expenditures. As part of the settlement, the dealership is also required to hire a compliance monitor for the next year to ensure that they are abiding by regulations and the terms of the settlement. They must also work with the 43 consumers that made complaints against them to remedy the wrongs they committed. If the parties cannot agree they will be subjected to alternative dispute resolution, the outcome of which they will be bound by.
When a consumer is subjected to fraud or deceptive practices by a business in the motor vehicle industry they do have options. A reputable Lemon Law attorney can assist clients with these issues right away.
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.