Lemon Laws are a relatively new variation of these protections, first passed by Connecticut in 1982. Quickly adopted by states across the country, they require manufacturers to repair, replace, or refund the cost of a vehicle found to be defective. If you’re considering filing a claim, here are a few examples to help you better understand how Lemon Law protects you as a consumer.
Lemons and the Law
Before diving into examples, it’s best to look at the law itself. The key aspects of Lemon Law are that the vehicle is under warranty, that there is a substantial defect, and the number of repair attempts. Each of these varies by state.
With the car under warranty, substantial defects are next. These are any issue that impacts the use, safety, or value of the vehicle. Then, the owner must attempt to repair the defect a certain number of times or the vehicle must be in a repair shop for a set number of days before filing a claim.
If the defect is irreparable, then the manufacturer is now liable. While the law is more complex, especially when a case heads to court, that’s Lemon Law in a nutshell. It’s always in your best interest to hire skilled legal aid, like this Lemon Law attorney at Conn Law, to properly file your claim and make your case. Not to mention fighting manufacturers, as you’ll see in the following examples.
Example One: Tesla
Robert Montgomery was excited to purchase a Model S from Tesla in 2013, forking over the hefty cost of over $100,000 for the brand’s upscale electric car. It wasn’t long before he noticed some glaring issues with his purchase, though.
The car would fail to start, the transmission wouldn’t shift correctly, and the battery’s cooling system wasn’t functioning properly. With no repair shops near Montgomery, he had to ship the car 1,000 miles to Chicago for repairs.
The mechanics couldn’t find the problem, and neither could Tesla’s engineers. After 66 days spent in the shop, Tesla returned the car while refusing to refund or replace it. So, he filed a civil lawsuit against them.
Tesla, refusing to admit fault, went so far as to post that Montgomery must have tampered with the car on social media. That’s when Montgomery hired a Lemon Law attorney. In the end, Tesla forked over $127,000 to cover the cost of the vehicle and its add-ons as well as $18,500 for Montgomery’s attorney fees.
Example Two: Mercedes
In 2013, Michelle Hinkley leased a 2014 Mercedes C 300 sedan. It was a beautiful luxury car, but the transmission was nothing but trouble from the start. She initially wanted $7,058 to cover the cost, but decided she was willing to settle out of court for $3,000.
Mercedes had other plans, claiming they only owed her $572. The 30-day deadline for the dispute in Wisconsin passed, they sent the measly check to the clerk of court and countersued to have a judge force Hinkley to accept the amount or declare she was owed nothing.
Hinkley’s Lemon Law attorney wasn’t about to stand for that, taking the case to Circuit Judge Glenn Yamahiro. The judge consolidated both lawsuits, finding Mercedes guilty of violating Lemon Law by not giving the check to either Hinkley or her attorney.
The manufacturer then took the case to the court of appeals where a judge ruled that Mercedes failed to pay the amount by the deadline and agreed with Yamahiro that they did not send the check appropriately. When it was all said and done, the judge ruled that Mercedes now owed $409,275.67 to cover legal fees and double damages on the full cost of the lease.