Hyundai Owner Says Co. Shouldn't Escape Lemon Law Suit – Law360 (subscription)



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By Juan Carlos Rodriguez

Law360, New York (June 02, 2014, 4:05 PM ET) —
The lead plaintiff in a class action accusing Hyundai Motor America of illegally buying back or replacing defective vehicles without refunding consumers for certain costs on Friday urged a California federal judge to reject the company’s bid to dodge the suit, saying its arguments don’t pass muster.

The lawsuit says Hyundai has avoided paying consumers for costs associated with buybacks or replacements including service contracts, insurance and registration fees. It also says the company improperly mandates certain deductions from the vehicles’ repurchase prices, such as for “any condition beyond normal wear and tear.”

But in an April motion to dismiss, the company argued it already fulfills its legal obligations under California’s lemon law.

Hyundai said it offered the required reimbursements to plaintiff Lori Robbins, and that Robbins had no right to claim reimbursement for other costs under California or federal law.

Hyundai said the California Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, which Robbins claims the car company violated, doesn’t require coverage of the insurance or service contracts as those are optional third-party services. It also said the act only requires reimbursement for initial registration fees, not for the fees every year the vehicle was registered.

In a brief in opposition to Hyundai’s motion, Robbins said the act clearly says a manufacturer must reimburse a buyer for the “actual price paid or payable.”

“At the time of purchase, plaintiff paid $2,490 for a third-party extended service contract and $750 for GAP insurance,” the brief said. “Though conceding this, HMA nevertheless assumes, without explanation or support, that these amounts ‘are not part of the actual price.’”

This contradicts controlling authority, Robbins said, which, under a California appeals court’s decision in Mitchell v. Blue Bird Body Co., holds that “actual price paid or payable” includes all amounts plaintiffs became legally obligated to pay when they agreed to buy the vehicle, including finance charges.

Hyundai has also argued that Robbins had no standing to protest Hyundai’s repurchase condition that she be responsible for any damages beyond normal wear and tear because no such damages were assessed against her vehicle.

Robbins responded that under the Song-Beverly act, manufacturers are not entitled to any reductions such as “wear and tear,” and that predelivery mileage offset is the sole permissible deduction.

“Ignoring the legislative history, case law, and the statutory mandate, HMA asserts that conditioning repurchase or replacement offers for wear-and-tear items is proper because the California Code of Regulations allows an arbitrator to offset any amount ‘for which the customer is justly responsible,’” Robbins said.

She also attacked the company’s argument that she had no right to bring claims under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act because she failed to first contest the reimbursement through Hyundai’s informal dispute procedure.

“Plaintiff need not do so … because HMA’s informal dispute procedure — the BBB Autoline — is not an informal dispute settlement procedure for the purposes of the MMWA,” the brief said.

The plaintiff is represented by Steve Borislav Mikhov and Mark D. O’Connor of O’Connor & Mikhov LLP and Karen E. Nakon and Payam Shahian of Strategic Legal Practices APC.

Hyundai is represented by Michael L. Mallow and Darlene M. Cho of Loeb & Loeb LLP.

The case is Lori Robbins v. Hyundai Motor America et al., case number 8:14-cv-00005 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

–Additional reporting by Kaitlyn Kiernan. Editing by Emily Kokoll.

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Hyundai Owner Says Co. Shouldn't Escape Lemon Law Suit – Law360 (subscription)

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More lemon law claims? More new car owners come forward after they spot rust … – WPTV

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Have you ever looked under your car or truck?

New car owners are shocked at what they’re finding.

A Consumer Watchdog investigation in February revealed new vehicles that look like they’re used.

It’s prompted others to take action.

Retired and ready to enjoy life, Cathy Stepaniak bought a 2014 Toyota Tacoma to cover all the roads she’ll travel.

“I worked 25 years to save up for this truck,” explained Stepaniak.

She’s already traveling a road she never expected.

“I’m very upset I cried all the way to the dealership,” explained Stepaniak.

Stepaniak took her car to the dealer after watching our Consumer Watchdog investigation into rusty new trucks.

“We were glued to it,” explained Stepaniak.

When Stepaniak went outside to look at her own truck she found rust.

“This is holding the exhaust system toward the back,” explained Stepaniak.

John Higgins also saw our Consumer Watchdog investigation.

“I thought I was the same guy on TV with the exact same problem,” explained Higgins.

His Ford truck is nearly new.

“I see a lot of rust on the axle and drive shaft,” explained Higgins.

Both customers were told the rust was normal, and their manufacturer didn’t do anything to help them.

They’ve only been to the dealer once. After three trips, they can make a lemon law claim.

That’s what Michael Gallagher did who we featured in our first story.

After calls by his lawyer and the Consumer Watchdog, Toyota took care of the issue.

“I couldn’t thank Jenn enough,” explained Gallagher. “Toyota changed their mind and they ultimately settled the case with my lawyer and myself and ended up getting a check.”

Gallagher bought a new truck, and this time around he checked it out.

“First thing I did was look under the vehicle and it looks great,” explained Gallagher.

Something every driver should do even if you’re buying new. You never know what happened to that truck between the factory and your driveway.

A car expert believes these trucks are exposed to something along the road to Florida.  Whether it’s salt, salt water, or a chemical.

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More lemon law claims? More new car owners come forward after they spot rust … – WPTV

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Ford Says Lemon Law Class Action Violates Speech Laws – Law360 (subscription)



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By Beth Winegarner
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Law360, San Francisco (May 21, 2014, 6:24 PM ET) — Ford Motor Co. urged a California federal judge on Wednesday to strike a proposed class action claiming the carmaker illegally forced customers to fix defective warrantied vehicles before returning them, arguing the lawsuit violates state free-speech laws because it’s founded on agreements between Ford and the plaintiffs to buy back their defective trucks.

An attorney for Ford told U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton that named plaintiffs Michael Sansoe and Eric Frazer’s lawsuit seeks to bar Ford from reaching settlements with other customers who threaten…

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Ford Says Lemon Law Class Action Violates Speech Laws – Law360 (subscription)

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'Lemon Law King' sues DOT over forms – Green Bay Press Gazette

MADISON — An attorney contacted by the state Department of Transportation to help draft forms in the wake of changes to Wisconsin’s lemon law filed a lawsuit on Thursday to stop its enforcement until allegedly incorrect documents posted online are fixed.

Vince Megna, the self-proclaimed “Lemon Law King,” filed the lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court. Megna wants the court to order the department to take down a form he alleges is not in compliance with the law and replace it with the correct one.

Megna is also asking that a document that applies to cases brought under the old law be reposted. Until all of that is done, Megna wants Wisconsin to not enforce the new lemon law, which took effect in March.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice, Dana Brueck, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Wisconsin’s lemon law applies to new vehicles on which the manufacturer fails to repair a warranty-covered defect after four tries in one year or fails to provide a timely refund or replacement.

Before the Legislature passed the changes over Megna’s objections in December, car owners had six years to sue the carmaker, with mandatory double damages. Now, they have three years and can only get actual damages, or half as much as before.

The law change also required DOT to update and make new forms available that consumers must submit in order to bring a lemon law claim.

Megna was approached by a DOT attorney in April to help interpret the law and draft the forms. But Megna declined, saying it would be a conflict given that he expected to bring cases against car manufacturers and dealers.

One form posted on the DOT website is “replete with errors” and a second required form has yet to be posted, making it impossible for a consumer to bring a valid lawsuit, Megna claims in his filling.

Megna included copies of the emails he exchanged with the DOT attorney to help bolster his argument that the department was having difficulty understanding its duties under the law.

“In my personal opinion, this provision may virtually gut the law,” DOT attorney John Sobotik wrote to Megna on April 25 about a form created by the department. “What consumer is going to know he/she has to provide a silly WisDOT form to a manufacturer in order for the Lemon Law to apply to repairs they have done?”

The lemon law changes had broad bipartisan support in the Legislature and the backing of car dealers and manufacturers, including General Motors, trial attorneys and the state chamber of commerce.

Megna has filed more than 3,000 lemon law cases over the past 25 years and won a $618,000 judgment in a 2012 lemon law case against Mercedes-Benz USA LLC.

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'Lemon Law King' sues DOT over forms – Green Bay Press Gazette

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Lemon law attorney Vince Megna sues state, says no consumer can make a … – Madison.com

Lemon law lawyer Vince Megna Thursday sued the state claiming that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s website is so misleading and riddled with errors that it’s impossible for consumers to file a lawsuit under the state’s new lemon law.

Last year, the Republican-controlled state Legislature approved changes to the lemon law that, among other provisions, cut the time for suing a carmaker from six to three years after purchase and eliminated mandatory double damages for failure to make timely refunds or replacement of a damaged vehicle. It also requires consumers to submit DOT forms in order to force carmakers to make good on their warranties.

The law took effect on March 1.

Megna’s lawsuit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court, lists the Department of Transportation, DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen as defendants. A DOT spokeswoman said the department had no comment on the lawsuit.

The new lemon law, inspired by a $618,000 judgment Megna won in 2012 against Mercedes-Benz USA, was backed by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association and the Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association.

Under the law, specified forms are supposed to be available for consumers seeking repair of damages, a refund or a replacement vehicle. But Megna claims none of the forms have been drafted in a manner that complies with the law.

He claims that the only form that resides on the website — one  for consumers electing a refund or a replacement vehicle — is so “replete with errors” that it doesn’t comply with the law.

“Any consumer using this form in making a Wisconsin lemon law claim would suffer irreparable injury with no adequate remedy at law, because the claim would be defective and the manufacturer would have no obligation to provide any lemon law relief,” the lawsuit contends. “Further, the consumer is prohibited by the lemon law statute of using any claim notice other than the claim form prescribed by the DOT, resulting in the consumer’s total inability to receive lemon law relief under any circumstances.”

A form required for a consumer to report defects does not exist on the website.

“As a result, no Wisconsin consumer can make any lemon law claim” under the new law, the lawsuit claims.

Consumers who purchased vehicles before March 1 still can make claims under the old lemon law, but those consumers “would likely be confused and mislead” by the website and send out the claims under the new law, resulting in inferior remedies, Megna claims.

Megna is demanding:

• An order that the DOT refrain from posting mandatory forms until they can be drafted in a way that complies with the new law and removal of the forms that don’t comply with the law.

• That the DOT post a notice to consumers who purchased vehicles before March 1 that their claims fall under the old lemon law.

• That the DOT fix legal and informational errors on the website.

• An order preventing the attorney general from enforcing the lemon law until valid forms are posted.

• Reinstatement of the old lemon law until the state can post forms that comply with the law.

As evidence that the DOT is having problems interpreting the law, Megna includes an email string between himself and DOT Assistant General Counsel John Sobotik, who on April 25 wrote Megna seeking his advice before posting the required forms.

In the email, Sobotik, referring to a requirement that a consumer provide a form for any warranty repair, wrote: “In my personal opinion, this provision may virtually gut the law. What consumer is going to know he/she has to provide a silly WisDOT form to a manufacturer in order for the lemon law to apply to repairs they have done?”

Megna, citing a high probability that he would be involved in litigation over the law, declined to offer his advice.

Responding back to Megna’s email, Sobotik offered criticism of the Legislative Reference Bureau, the Legislature’s bill-drafting service.

“I was out Friday night with other state lawyers who told me that the LRB  these days is not drafting legislation with legislators, but instead are asked simply to transcribe the junk interest group drafts that are handed to them for verbatim transcription,” he wrote on May 5. “There is little care, apparently, about whether the statutes will make sense or mesh.”

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Author: STEVEN ELBOW | The Capital Times | selbow@madison.com

Lemon law attorney Vince Megna sues state, says no consumer can make a … – Madison.com

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DOT seeks advice on lemon law from opponent – Green Bay Press Gazette

MADISON — A top attorney for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation sought advice on interpreting a new motor vehicle lemon law from someone who had tried to stop the changes in the Legislature.

Vince Megna, the self-proclaimed “Lemon Law King” from Milwaukee, declined this week to assist the DOT attorney in answering a series of questions about the intent of the law.

Megna says doing that would pose a conflict because of future lawsuits he’s likely to bring under the law, which he described as “God awful” in an email response Sunday to the DOT attorney.

Megna says he is surprised that a DOT attorney contacted him for his opinion given his outspoken opposition to the law.

The attorney who wrote to Megna did not immediately respond to messages on Tuesday.

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DOT seeks advice on lemon law from opponent – Green Bay Press Gazette

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Wisconsin DOT attorney turns to vocal critic of new lemon law for help … – Minneapolis Star Tribune

MADISON, Wis. — A top attorney for the state Department of Transportation sought advice on interpreting a new motor vehicle lemon law from a lawyer who tried to stop the changes in the Legislature, arguing they made it difficult for consumers to successfully sue car dealers and manufacturers.

Milwaukee attorney Vince Megna, a self-proclaimed “Lemon Law King,” declined this week to help the DOT attorney answer questions about the law’s intent. Megna said he’s likely to sue under the “God awful” law and wanted to avoid a potential conflict.

“Any involvement could lead to cries by the manufacturers and/or defense attorneys that I participated in helping to direct the very provisions that I am now challenging,” Megna wrote in an email sent Sunday to the DOT attorney. He provided a copy to The Associated Press.

DOT assistant general counsel John Sobotik confirmed he had reached out to Megna and others with questions about the law. He referred additional questions to another DOT official, John Fandrich, who did not immediately respond to questions emailed Tuesday.

Megna said in a telephone interview that he was surprised a DOT attorney sought his opinion, given his opposition to the law. The DOT did not take a position on the law, but it is responsible for administering key portions, including making forms available for lemon law claims.

“I got the feeling nobody knew what this law was all about,” Megna said, adding that he believes a form posted on the DOT website this week is inaccurate.

Sobotik emailed Megna multiple questions on April 25, including a request for Megna’s read on a provision requiring vehicle owners to use a specific DOT form to report a lemon to manufacturers.

“In my personal opinion, this provision may virtually gut the law,” Sobotik wrote to Megna. “What consumer is going to know he/she has to provide a silly WisDOT form to a manufacturer in order for the Lemon Law to apply to repairs they have done?”

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the new law last year with broad bipartisan support and the backing of car dealers and manufacturers, including General Motors, trial attorneys and the state chamber of commerce.

The revised lemon law applies to new vehicles on which the manufacturer fails to repair a warranty-covered defect even after four tries in one year, or fails to provide a timely refund or replacement. Previously, car owners had six years to sue the carmaker, with mandatory double damages. Now they have three years, and they can only get actual damages.

Megna spoke out against the changes on a variety of grounds, including the three-year cutoff to bring lawsuits. He has filed more than 3,000 lemon law cases over the past 25 years and won a $618,000 judgment in a 2012 lemon law case against Mercedes-Benz USA LLC. Megna has irritated Republicans by posting a series of satirical videos targeting Gov. Scott Walker and others, including the lemon law bill sponsor, Rep. Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha.

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Wisconsin DOT attorney turns to vocal critic of new lemon law for help … – Minneapolis Star Tribune

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Wisconsin DOT sought advice from lemon law opponent – Pioneer Press

MADISON, Wis. — A top attorney for the state Department of Transportation sought advice on interpreting a new motor vehicle lemon law from a lawyer who tried to stop the changes in the Legislature, arguing they made it difficult for consumers to successfully sue car dealers and manufacturers.

Milwaukee attorney Vince Megna, a self-proclaimed “Lemon Law King,” declined this week to help the DOT attorney answer questions about the law’s intent. Megna said he’s likely to sue under the “God awful” law and wanted to avoid a potential conflict.

“Any involvement could lead to cries by the manufacturers and/or defense attorneys that I participated in helping to direct the very provisions that I am now challenging,” Megna wrote in an email sent Sunday to the DOT attorney. He provided a copy to the Associated Press.

DOT assistant general counsel John Sobotik confirmed he had reached out to Megna and others with questions about the law. He referred additional questions to another DOT official, John Fandrich, who did not immediately respond to questions emailed Tuesday.

Megna said in a telephone interview that he was surprised a DOT attorney sought his opinion, given his opposition to the law. The DOT did not take a position on the law, but it is responsible for administering key portions, including making forms available for lemon law claims.

“I got the feeling nobody knew what this law was all about,” Megna said, adding that he believes a form posted on the DOT website this week is inaccurate.

Sobotik emailed Megna multiple questions on April 25, including a request for Megna’s read on a provision requiring vehicle owners to use a specific DOT form to report a lemon to manufacturers.

“In my personal opinion, this provision may virtually gut the law,” Sobotik wrote to Megna. “What consumer is going to know he/she has to provide a silly WisDOT form to a manufacturer in order for the Lemon Law to apply to repairs they have done?”

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the new law last year with broad bipartisan support and the backing of car dealers and manufacturers, including General Motors, trial attorneys and the state chamber of commerce.

The revised lemon law applies to new vehicles on which the manufacturer fails to repair a warranty-covered defect even after four tries in one year, or fails to provide a timely refund or replacement. Previously, car owners had six years to sue the carmaker, with mandatory double damages. Now they have three years, and they can only get actual damages.

Megna spoke out against the changes on a variety of grounds, including the three-year cutoff to bring lawsuits. He has filed more than 3,000 lemon law cases over the past 25 years and won a $618,000 judgment in a 2012 lemon law case against Mercedes-Benz USA LLC. Megna has irritated Republicans by posting a series of satirical videos targeting Gov. Scott Walker and others, including the lemon law bill sponsor, Rep. Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha.

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Wisconsin DOT sought advice from lemon law opponent – Pioneer Press

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Tesla moves WI lemon law case over luxury electric car to federal court – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (blog)

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May 2, 2014





Lawyers for luxury electric car maker Tesla Motors have moved a Wisconsin lawsuit against it into federal court after the plaintiff, a Franklin physician and retired Army officer, rejected a settlement offer.

Robert Montgomery filed the first-ever lemon law claim against Tesla last month, and that drew national publicity because of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company’s current status as a Wall Street darling and litigation in other states over its direct-sales model that avoids traditional dealerships.

Self-proclaimed lemon law king Vince Megna represents Montgomery. After Tesla’s company blog suggested Montgomery’s own tampering may have caused some of the problems cited in his suit, Megna put out a public offer of settlement. He said recently that Tesla responded with an offer about $16,000 less than the $108, 622 Megna demanded.

On Thursday, Tesla — now represented in Wisconsin by the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich — filed a “notice of removal,” seeking to move the litigation to U.S. District Court in Milwaukee  because the dispute is between parties of different states.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman.


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    if(que.length > 1){
    spew(que,function(chunk){
    $(“#comments-list”).append(chunk);
    $(“#comments-list .bzdu.commenter-“+_commentUser.id).removeClass(“bzdu”).addClass(“bzbu”);
    });
    }else{
    $(“#comments-list”).append(que.join(”));
    $(“#comments-list .bzdu.commenter-“+_commentUser.id).removeClass(“bzdu”).addClass(“bzbu”);
    }

    _paging.setHash(false,{event:”pageload”});
    if(window.location.hash.indexOf(“comment=”) > -1){
    var scrl = window.location.hash;
    scrl = scrl.substring(scrl.indexOf(“comment=”)+8);
    if(scrl.indexOf(“&”) > -1){
    scrl = scrl.substring(0,scrl.indexOf(“&”));
    }
    $(“html,body”).animate({scrollTop:$(“#comment-“+scrl).offset().top},”fast”);
    }
    }else{
    $(“#comments-list”).html(‘

      ‘);
      }
      }

      $(window).hashchange(function(){
      if(_paging.event == “pageload”){
      var windowLocationHash = window.location.hash;
      windowLocationHash = windowLocationHash.replace(/^#!/,””);
      if(windowLocationHash && (windowLocationHash.indexOf(“sort=”) > -1 || windowLocationHash.indexOf(“page=”) > -1 || windowLocationHash.indexOf(“viewAll=”) > -1 || windowLocationHash.indexOf(“pageSize=”) > -1 || windowLocationHash.indexOf(“comment=”) > -1)){
      var urlVars = [], hash;
      var hashes = windowLocationHash.split(‘&’);
      for(var i = 0; i Refreshing comments…’);
      }
      if(!window.location.hash || window.location.hash.indexOf(“comments”) > -1){
      //this sets default sort order to newestfirst on initial page load
      //condition for #comments on blog posts and no hash on article urls, we do ajax
      $(“#comments-list”).html(‘

      Refreshing comments…

      ‘);
      $(“.sorting select option:selected”).removeAttr(‘selected’);
      $(“.sorting select .newestfirst”).attr(‘selected’, ‘selected’);
      _paging.setHash(false,{event:”pagerefresh”,sortString:”newestfirst”,page:_paging.pages,pageSize:_paging.pageSize});
      }
      }

      $.ajax({
      url:_paging.url(),
      cache:false,
      dataType: ‘json’,
      success:function(__data){
      createCommentsList(__data);
      },
      error: function(a,b,c){
      //alert(“ajax error:” + a+”,”+b+”,”+c);
      $(“#comments-list”).html(__data.html+’

        Oops, its taking too long to retrieve comments, please try again.

      ‘+__data.html);
      }
      });

      });
      if(_commentUser.refreshComments == true){//occurs when someone posts a comment then refreshes page
      _commentUser.refreshComments = false;
      $.cookie(‘_commentSession’,_commentUser,{expires:_commentUser.expires,path:’/’});
      $(“#comments-list”).html(‘

      Refreshing comments…

      ‘);
      $(“.sorting select option:selected”).removeAttr(‘selected’);
      $(“.sorting select .newestfirst”).attr(‘selected’, ‘selected’);
      _paging.setHash(true,{event:”pagerefresh”,sortString:”newestfirst”,page:_paging.pages});
      }
      $(window).hashchange();

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