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Lemon Law Blog

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lemon Law Dispute Results in $500,000 Settlement

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

Tesla Settles Lemon Law Case

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

Timothy Abeel & Associates Get Results for Lemon Law Clients

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

The Lemon Law Presumption Explained

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

Consumer Protection Lawsuit Against NJ Used Car Dealer Settled

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. 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recent Success in Lemon Law Cases

As a consumer, you do not always get what we bargained for.  When it comes to a big purchase, such as a vehicle, it is important that you have some type of recourse.  This is where the Lemon Laws become important.  Vehicle Lemon Laws are meant to protect a consumer who purchases an automobile that is defective in some way.  At Timothy Abeel & Associates, we have a wide variety of experience in this area which has allowed us to obtain great results for our clients, even in difficult cases, such as the two listed below.

A client purchased a 2012 mid-sized sedan and began having problems with the tire pressure warning light.  The light continued to go on and the client was back and forth to the dealership seven times hoping to have the problem fixed.  After contacting the firm and retaining our attorney, Richard A. Scholer, the vehicle manufacturer agreed to repurchase the vehicle (issue a full refund to the client) and agreed to pay attorneys fees.  This case was a difficult one as the Lemon Law is mostly applicable in cases of water and oil leaks, brake issues, etc…Even so, 60 days after hiring our firm the client was completely relieved of the burden the vehicle had caused.

Another client purchased a brand new 2014 SUV and soon after the sun roof started leaking.  The client, who was an attorney, tried to handle the case themselves but made no headway with the manufacturer.  After retaining Timothy Abeel the client was given a replacement SUV at no cost.  Many clients try to handle these cases themselves and either end up making no progress or accepting less than they are entitled to.  That is why it is essential to retain an attorney with significant experience in this area in order to get results.

 In another instance, a client purchased a sedan for over $100,000.  When the vehicle began having an issue with it's warning lights, the client brought the vehicle back and forth to the dealership four times.  When the vehicle was out of service for over 40 days, the client, also an attorney, attempted to negotiate with the manufacturer to have the vehicle bought back.  When his communications with the manufacturer went no where, he contacted Timothy Abeel.  In a short amount of time, Tim was able to have the manufacturer repurchase the vehicle and pay attorneys fees.  

The client in this case has said:

"Tim is very responsive to emails/phone calls, and has excellent insight in how best to deal with vehicle manufacturers. He resolved my lemon law claim very quickly. I strongly encourage any consumer having a lemon law issue with their vehicle to contact Tim."

As this area of law is unique, these cases should be handled by attorneys who are veterans in this field.  Contact an experienced Lemon Law attorney today for a free consultation. 


Saturday, September 13, 2014

New Website Helps Car-Owners Find Defects

In 2014, there have been 46 million automobile recalls nationwide.  Owners of almost any car might, understandably, worry about hidden mechanical problems that could prove inconvenient or even life-threatening.

A new web site created by the federal government is designed to help car owners find out everything they need to know about a car's recall history.  Users who enter a car, truck or motorcycle vehicle identification number (VIN) into Safercar.gov will get a list of recall repairs for that vehicle.

The free service uses automobile companies' weekly recall records, identifying which repairs were needed and which ones were actually made for the vehicle.  Owners can then take their vehicle in for any recall repairs that should have been made.  The web site relieves consumers of the responsibility of figuring out the exact year, make and model they own and then researching which recalls may have applied to it.  Simply by entering a VIN, owners can find out about recalls going back 15 years.  After 10 years, a repair needed because of a recall may no longer be free.

Smaller-volume car brands, such as Bentley, are exempt from the system.  Technical service bulletins are also not searchable.  But owners of new and used vehicles still get valuable information about what has been done, and what needs to be done, to make their cars roadworthy.

Dealers who fail to disclose car defects may be engaged in fraud or other deceptive business practices.  In addition, if your new car cannot be fixed after repeated attempts or is not drivable for long periods of time, you may be entitled to a complete refund or replacement vehicle under your state's lemon law.

 

if you believe that your automobile is a lemon, don't hesitate to contact a reputable Lemon Law attorney for a free consultation today!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

New Jersey Roads Awash in Title-Washed Cars

Two years after Hurricane Sandy flooded their homes, thousands of New Jersey residents now face a new disaster—unwittingly driving flood-damaged cars. 

Data from CarFax, the company that compiles vehicle histories on used cars and trucks, shows that New Jersey leads the nation in "title-washing." 

In this scam, professional con men don't just remove outward signs of damage from cars—they also remove all indications of damage from cars' titles.  According to CarFax, they move cars from state to state and are, ultimately, able to present a buyer with an unblemished title.  Sold to unsuspecting consumers, the cars may have serious hidden damage. 

There may be as many as 80,000 title-washed cars on New Jersey roads.  Not all were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  The scam encompasses all types of accidents and wrecks.  But a spokesperson for the state Motor Vehicle Commission blamed the storm for the increase in title-washing incidents in the state.   

CarFax recommends purchasing from a reputable dealer and having a reliable mechanic take a look at the car.  More research to a car's history can also uncover attempts at fraud. 

Since February 2013, New Jersey motorists have been able to consult an online database.  The site enables consumers to search for cars by Vehicle Identification Number, make, model and year to determine whether it was in a flood or accident. 

Dealer fraud, misrepresenting a car's history, concealing water or collision damage, and other types of deceptive business practices, are illegal under Pennsylvania and New Jersey law.  If you have been a victim of misrepresentations about the condition of your vehicle, an experienced Lemon Law attorney can help you gain the upper hand.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Under NJ Lemon Law, Consumer Gets Full Refund for Car With Faulty Airbag

What happens when a new car's engine works well, but its airbag warning light doesn't?  That defect may entitle a consumer to a full refund, as a New Jersey family has discovered, after a long battle.

Consumers who buy new cars that prove defective may be able to receive a refund or replacement car under New Jersey's "Lemon Law."  The law applies to vehicles with defects that are still unresolved after several attempts at repair or that are out of service for twenty (20) days or more.  A wide range of mechanical and structural problems can also qualify a car as a lemon.

After purchasing a new 2013 Nissan Sentra for his family, James Staszak kept noticing that the warning light for the passenger side airbag stayed on. When passengers are in the passenger seat, the car is supposed to detect their presence and the airbag is supposed to be operational.  In the Staszak's car, the constant warning light raised the possibility that the passenger airbag was not operational and would not deploy in an accident.

When he looked further into the problem, Staszak discovered that Nissan had recalled a number of 2013 Nissan Sentras because of issues involving passenger side airbags.  Two Nissan dealerships were unable to fix the problem with his car, but refused to take the car back.  For a year, the Staszak family worried about the air bag whenever they drove the car.

With the help of a local ABC news program, the Staszaks were able to motivate Nissan to take a closer look at their case.  Nissan repurchased the car and gave them a complete refund—their down payment plus their entire year of car payments.  The company specifically acknowledged New Jersey's Lemon Law in its resolution of the dispute.

The dispute and its resolution illustrate two important points.  First, that even if a car runs smoothly, it may be a "lemon" for other reasons.  Second, that it helps to have a vigorous advocate when dealing with recalcitrant automobile dealers and manufacturers.  

Not everyone has the benefit of a television news show's intervention.  Fortunately, there are other ways to get results that can be just as effective, if not more so.  A knowledgeable attorney can help consumers determine whether the lemon law applies and whether there are other legal grounds for a claim, such as breach of warranty.  

if you believe that your automobile is a lemon, don't hesitate to contact a reputable lemon law attorney for a consultation today!


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Inaccurate Fuel Ratings and Electric Charge Ranges

Gas prices have skyrocketed in the last ten years.  For some, it can feel like they are spending a small fortune whenever they fill up their vehicle.  With gas prices constantly fluctuating and an increasingly environmentally conscious population, the consumer and manufacturer alike have been focusing on fuel economy and the widespread manufacturing of hybrid vehicles.

Fuel economy and electric charge range are main factors considered by consumers when leasing or purchasing an automobile.  All cars are given a fuel rating and/or electric charge range by the Environmental Protection Agency.  While many variables affect these ratings, cars are supposed to perform at around their estimated fuel or charge range on a regular basis.  Sometimes, due to a problem with the particular car or a mistake in the calculations of the rating, a vehicle does not perform in accordance with the estimated range.  

In the last several years two automakers have been at the center of fuel range/ electric charge range disputes.  Ford Motor Company overestimated the fuel and electric charge range of six of their models.  The vehicles in question included gas and hybrid models.  After the discovery, they lowered the fuel ratings for these models and began compensating customers.  Hyundai Motors and its sister company, Kia Motors, were implicated in a similar dispute when it was discovered that fuel ratings for eight of their vehicles had been overestimated.  They too began reimbursing customers.

Although these types of disputes often result in minimal compensation from the auto manufacturer, you may choose to pursue compensation under your states lemon law.  The overestimation of fuel rating and/or electric charge range is a misrepresentation made by the manufacturer.  As fuel economy is a major factor when deciding on an automobile, an incorrect rating is a substantial impairment to the consumer.  This substantial impairment can be the basis for a lemon law claim.  

If you have leased or purchased a vehicle with an incorrect fuel or electric charge range, call a lemon law attorney to discuss your case today.


Monday, July 14, 2014

How to Document Your Lemon Law Case and Other Concerns

Is your car always in the shop?  Does it have one problem or a variety of problems?  If you think that your vehicle may be a lemon, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified lemon law attorney.  It is also crucially important to gather evidence and document your problem as much as possible while your case is going on.  The more evidence you have of your complaints, the better off you will be when settling your claim. In addition to documenting you lemon law claim, there are also other things you should consider doing if you are involved in a lemon law case.

How to Document Your Lemon Law Claim

Take Pictures and Videos

You should use all of the technology available to you to document your lemon law claim.  Pull out your smart phone and take a few snap shots or record a video of your problem.

Repair Orders

You should always get a repair order when you bring your car in for work that is covered by warranty.  A repair order will show what your complaint was and what work was performed on the vehicle.  It is also important to make sure that the service staff are writing up your complaint correctly and not attempting to restate it to make it seem like the vehicle was brought in for a different problem.

Other Concerns

Regular Maintenance

Make sure you keep up with your vehicles regular maintenance such as oil changes, brake and tire maintenance and tune ups.  If you don’t keep up with regular maintenance it could have a negative impact on your case.

Miles

Don’t put a lot of miles on your car.  If you get a lot of use out of your vehicle as evidenced by a lot of miles, the other side may be able to use this against you.  You want to be able to show that you have not been able to get enough use out of your car due to the problems.

Trade-In

No matter how tempted you may be, don’t trade in your car.  If you do trade your car in you cannot recover for your losses under the state lemon law, but other avenues of recovery may be available. 

If you suspect that your car is a lemon, call an experienced Lemon Law attorney today for a consultation! 


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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.



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25 Regency Plaza, Glen Mills, PA 19342
| Phone: 888-830-1474
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| Phone: 888-830-1474
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| Phone: 888-830-1474
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© 2016 Timothy Abeel & Associates, P.C. | Disclaimer
25 Regency Plaza, Glen Mills, PA 19342
| Phone: 888-830-1474
309 Fellowship Road, East Gate Center, Suite 200, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054

301 Grant Street, One Oxford Center, Suite 4300, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

101 Eisenhower Pkwy, Suite 300, Roseland, NJ 07068

About Us | Our Team | Do I Have A Case? | Auto Recalls

FacebookGoogle+TwitterYouTube

25 Regency Plaza, Glen Mills, PA 19342 | 309 Fellowship Road, East Gate Center, Suite 200, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
301 Grant Street, One Oxford Center, Suite 4300, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 | 101 Eisenhower Pkwy, Suite 300, Roseland, NJ 07068
Phone: 888-830-1474

888.830.1474