No, Florida's Lemon Law Ruling Probably Won't Be a Big Deal – The Truth About Cars (blog)

Judge Judy

A Florida Lemon Law board ruled this week that Volkswagen would have to pay an 86-year-old man $15,000 for his illegally polluting diesel, WPTV reported.

The man’s Volkswagen — which VW lawyers unsuccessfully argued wasn’t a lemon because it still ran and drove — could prompt others to file similar lemon law claims against the automaker, but may fall short of sparking a grassroots buy-back campaign in other states.

“A Florida Court order isn’t binding on any other state but can be ‘persuasive authority,’” Colorado Lemon Law attorney Rick Wynkoop said. Florida’s Lemon Law process is pretty unique because it requires an arbiter’s ruling first, but can be appealed in court.

“An arbiter’s order has next-to-zero weight. I’m not joking when I tell you that arbiters are not required to follow the law,” Wynkoop added.

Wynkoop said that he hadn’t yet read the Florida order, but that it would be tough to unilaterally apply the ruling to other cases. Even in Florida, a different board turned down another owner’s request to have Volkswagen buy back a car, according to WPTV.

So, the Florida board’s ruling may not have much weight beyond its four walls, but at least progress is progress. Right?

(Photo courtesy Facebook)

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Written by: Aaron Cole

VW loses Fla. Lemon Law case over emissions scandal – WPTV.com


FILE – In this Sept. 22, 2015, file photo, the Volkswagen logo of a car is photographed during a car show in Frankfurt, Germany. A dealer familiar with Volkswagen’s plans says the automaker intends to offer $1,000 in gift cards and vouchers to owners of smaller diesel cars as a gesture of goodwill to owners with 2-liter four-cylinder diesel engines that have been implicated in an emissions cheating scandal. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)

Michael Probst

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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More drivers planning to file lemon law claim after local Volkswagen hearing – WPTV.com

There’s new hope for thousands of diesel drivers here in Florida deceived by Volkswagen emissions scandal. The news of a Jupiter man winning a lemon law claim against the giant automaker is paving the way for other affected drivers.

The Audi 8 with a diesel engine was a perfect fit for Conrad Ailstock’s environmentally friendly lifestyle. All of his home lights are LED, he recycles, so the news that his clean diesel engine wasn’t really clean, came as a shock.

“I was really surprised and really shocked that there was such deception in the whole process,” said Ailstock.

His Audi is among the millions of cars violating the EPA’s clean air act regulations.

“I’ve been going to the manufacture requesting a voluntary buyback which every time they’ve declined, they say we’re working on it, we’re working on it,” added Ailstock.

But it’s been months and there is no news of a fix. A Jupiter man’s victory against the giant automaker using the Florida Lemon law is opening up a new avenue for Ailstock.

“I never thought I could use the lemon law,” he added.

Like many drivers affected by the emission scandal, Ailstock has no choice but to drive his car, worried about how harmful the emissions actually are.

“I don’t know what I’m breahting in or what I’m putting out in the environment,” Ailstock added.

Volkswagen did not want to comment at the hearing and at one point even tried to block the media from recording it. The Jupiter man who won the case is encouraging other drivers to file claims too. 

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VW tries to block lemon law hearing over diesel cheating scandal – WPTV.com

JUPITER, Fla. – At 86-years-old, Walter Melnyk is taking on a giant… Volkswagen.

“I’m just a small guy going against a multi-million dollar company,” Melnyk said. “They deceived the consumer which I don’t think is right.”

Volkswagen was caught cheating on emissions. The EPA said the vehicles don’t run as clean as advertised. That’s a big concern for Melnyk who already has breathing problems.

“I’m worried about my health,” Melnyk explained.

Volkswagen’s offer to customers includes free roadside assistance, a $500 Visa card, and a $500 dealer credit.

That left Melnyk feeling sour.

“The car is under warranty so how much money can I spend at Volkswagen?” Melnyk questioned as he laughed. “It’s not a good offer.”

So Melnyk filed a Florida Lemon Law claim. It’s an option for Florida drivers who feel a defect in the car impacts safety, use or value. Melnyk’s claim was accepted, but now VW is trying to block the case. They’re taking Melnyk to court and burying him in legal documents.

“This could open a can of worms for them,” Melnyk said.

“This is David versus Goliath in a big way,” NewsChannel 5 Consumer Watchdog Jenn Strathman said.

“In a huge way. I go back to the 48 page brief that was filed,” said lemon law attorney Patrick Cousins of Cousins Law Firm .

Cousins has reviewed thousands of lemon law cases, and says what Volkswagen is doing here is rare.

“It’s surprising when I read the documents how adamant they are in trying to block the consumer,” explained Cousins.

VW tried this with a similar Florida Lemon Law case late last year, and lost.

“They probably spent more money defending this than it would have cost to get the consumer out of the vehicle,” Cousins said.

Melnyk is facing big time corporate lawyers and hasn’t spent a dime on one for himself.

“I don’t know what Volkswagen’s big concern is. Other than they might lose. Then again they may win,” Cousins explained.

Volkswagen lost round one.

Wednesday Melnyk will face off with Volkswagen’s lawyers in front of the Florida Lemon Law board. He’ll argue why his $28 thousand investment dropped in value.

“Are you going to back down?” Strathman asked.

“No. I’m going all the way,” Melnyk said.

The other VW driver who filed a similar case in Jacksonville lost his Florida Lemon Law case in December. This latest case will be heard in West Palm Beach Wednesday.

Volkswagen and its attorneys have not returned our calls.

—-
For the latest consumer issues and trends or to report a consumer problem to Jenn, follow her on Facebook and Twitter .

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'RHOC' Star Gretchen Rossi Forget Orange … My Range Rover's a Lemon! – TMZ.com

1/9/2016 12:20 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

EXCLUSIVE

0108_GRETCHEN-ROSSI_TMZ‘Real Housewives of Orange County’ star Gretchen Rossi claims her Range Rover has been a dud from the get-go, but the car company still won’t take it back … so she’s suing.

According to a new lawsuit, Rossi plunked down $111k for a brand new Range Rover in 2012, and says she drove all of 200 miles before some big problems surfaced … problems with acceleration, the battery, fuses, and a smoking tail pipe.

She went back to the dealer in November for an idling problem, and this time she was told the vehicle was out of warranty, which she says was especially galling because she had been there 3 times before for the exact same problem.

Fed up, Rossi claims she tried to exercise her rights under the Lemon Law by returning the vehicle to the dealer, but she was shut down. She says the dealership offered to fix the problem for free, but only if she gave up her rights under the Lemon Law.  

Rossi told them to take a hike, which will probably be her new mode of transportation, and she’s filed suit.

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Lemon Law lawyer rocks again, thanks to reissued album – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Long before he became the self-proclaimed King of Lemon Law, an antagonist of Gov. Scott Walker and a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Vince Megna got a little taste of success in his first calling — as a professional guitarist.

He became friends with Bobby Hart, a songwriter whose credits include several Monkees’ songs, including “(Theme From) The Monkees”; “Hurts So Bad,” a hit for Little Anthony and others; the theme song for “Days of Our Lives”; and “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight,” which, recorded by Hart and songwriting partner Tommy Boyce, was a hit in 1968.

In the late 1970s, during Megna’s second run at a music career, he played guitar on Hart’s first solo album, recorded in 1978 and released in 1980 in Europe.

Megna also co-wrote a song for the album, “I’m Just Taking the Long Way Home,” but it didn’t make the final cut.

Now, 35 years later, it’s back.

“Bobby called me a couple months ago and said a record label in England wanted to rerelease his solo album on CD,” Megna said. “And he wanted to include a song that I co-wrote with him that never made it on the original.”

“I said, ‘Great!’ I was really happy,” Megna said.

“It didn’t come out that well in the recording, and it didn’t make it onto the album,” he said. “But 20 years later, talking to Bobby, he thought ‘Long Way Home’ stands up the best. He said he thought Michael Bublé should record it.”

The song definitely has a slow, crooner feel. It starts, “Stoned again — feeling like sin,” and goes on to lament a lost love: “It’s not that I’m lost since she’s gone. I’m just taking the long way home.”

It’s slow, over sad piano and lots of strings. One thing that’s missing: Megna’s guitar, though he played guitar on the album.

Megna, 71, recalled writing the song with Hart.

Megna had first gone to Los Angeles after high school in the mid-1960s, hoping to make his mark in music. He said he went to the musicians union and he got a job playing bass with the Walker Brothers, then singer Teddy Randazzo. Hart and Boyce were background singers. Along the way, Megna became friends with Hart, whose career really took off as a songwriter around that time.

To avoid being drafted into the Army in 1967, Megna joined the Navy as a guitarist, but got out in about a year and returned to Milwaukee for college and law school. After a few years in practice, he returned to Los Angeles in 1977 for another stab at music. That’s when he helped Hart record his album.

“I was living at his house in Hollywood at the time.

“We wrote (the song) in his bedroom, where he had a Hammond B3” organ.

Megna’s band, The Attorneys, never really hit it big. He returned to Wisconsin and discovered he enjoyed suing car dealers and manufacturers nearly as much as making music.

But for now, he’s digging his song on the new CD.

“I’m as proud of that song as I am of my $850,000 verdict against Mercedes,” he said.

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California's Lemon Law Applies To More Than Just Cars – CBS Local

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — When you hear the term Lemon Law, you likely think this cars, but California’s law extends to TV’s and other big ticket items as well.

There are a number of things that can go wrong after purchasing pricy consumer electronics or appliances this holiday season.

And while many shoppers are out searching for deals, and considering warranties, there may be a better way to save.

“Really where consumers can save money is by knowing their rights,” Consumer Attorney Kristin Kemnitzer said.

Kemnitzer says those rights include lemon law protections for any electric appliance over $100, for at least seven years after the purchase, whether or not the item is still under warranty.

Kemnitzer explains that neither the retailer nor the manufacturer has to actually fix a product that is out of warranty, but they do have to provide you or a service facility with the parts to fix it, even if it was the consumer that broke it.  If the manufacturer doesn’t provide those parts, the consumer is entitled to a replacement.

Keep in mind, odds are neither the store nor manufacturer is likely to be aware of your rights under California law.

Your best bet is to contact your manufacturer armed with a copy of the law. And you may also need to have the repair or service facility that’s preforming the work contact the manufacturer on your behalf.

More information on the law is available by clicking on the link below.

http://law.onecle.com/california/civil/1793.03.html

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John Roska: Illinois' lemon law for new cars isn't very fruitful – Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette

Q: I bought a car that has never run right. What can I do? Is there a lemon law that would get me a refund?

A: The Illinois lemon law only applies to new car sales, and isn’t worth much. It’s an example of how “consumer protection” laws often protect merchants more than consumers.

For a used car sale, you’re out of luck if it wasn’t still under a manufacturer’s warranty, and it was sold “as is.”

The Illinois lemon law for new cars is called the New Vehicle Buyer Protection Act. It’s Section 380 of chapter 815 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes. It applies to new car sales and leases, and only covers defects that occur during the first 12 months or 12,000 miles.

The law says if it’s a true lemon you’re entitled to a new replacement vehicle, or a refund. It’s a lemon if the seller is “unable to conform the new vehicle to any of its applicable express warranties.” Service or repair contracts, however, aren’t warranties.

If you think you got a lemon, you can sue. But before you can sue, you must jump through lots of hoops.

First, the defect must “substantially impair the use, market value or safety” of the vehicle. Second, you must give the dealer or manufacturer at least four tries to fix each particular defect. Or, the vehicle must be “out of service” for a total of at least 30 business days.

Third, you must give the dealer or manufacturer written notice that you want a replacement or refund.

Fourth, you must then go through arbitration. It’s informal, and not binding, and is supposed to end with the arbitrator recommending some kind of settlement. That recommendation won’t necessarily be a refund or replacement.

If you’re not offered a refund or replacement, and you don’t like what’s recommended, you can reject the arbitrator’s decision and sue.

You only have 18 months from the date of purchase to take that fifth and final step of filing suit. (Time spent on arbitration doesn’t count.) You can sue for a refund, or a new replacement vehicle.

If you sue, you won’t really get a full refund — there’s a deduction for a “reasonable allowance for consumer use.” Plus, you don’t get a refund of the taxes you paid.

And since the lemon law doesn’t award attorney fees if you win, finding a lawyer to represent you won’t be easy.

One expert says this law “has almost no value to consumers.” It may put some pressure on dealers and manufacturers to satisfy customers, but not much.

The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act isn’t specifically a lemon law, but it can be used when warranties are breached in any kind of consumer transaction — not just new car sales. So you could file a “Mag-Moss” claim for damages resulting from any warranty that was breached by a new or used car’s defects. It awards attorney fees if you sue and win.

Finally, an “as is” sale requires a valid and conspicuous disclaimer of the implied warranty of merchantability. That’s usually done with a “Buyer’s Guide,” posted in a used car’s window, with the “as is” box checked.

John Roska is a lawyer with Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation. You can send your questions to The Law Q&A, 302 N. First St., Champaign, IL 61820. Questions may be edited for space.

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California's Lemon Law helps protect pricey consumer electronics – Los Angeles Times

California’s Lemon Law is intended first and foremost to keep new-car buyers from being stuck with a hunk of junk.

But here’s something you may not know: The law is also a powerful weapon for ensuring that your pricey electronic gadgets don’t end up in the dumpster any time they break.

That’s important to keep in mind as an estimated 57 million Americans hit electronics stores this holiday season in search of bright, shiny new TVs, computers, game consoles and other high-end devices.

Under the Lemon Law — a.k.a. the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act — manufacturers of most household electronic goods that sell for more than $100 have to provide spare parts for up to seven years, regardless of warranty status.

If they fail to do so, lawyers say, consumers have a strong case for demanding a replacement product.

“Most Lemon Law cases involve vehicles,” acknowledged William McGee, a San Diego attorney. “But Song-Beverly goes much farther. It’s extremely powerful.”

Jeff Cummins, an associate professor of political science at Cal State Fresno, discovered that after he purchased a 50-inch Sony TV for $800 in June. “It had all the bells and whistles,” he told me.

A few weeks ago, disaster.

Cummins’ 5-year-old son was horsing around with friends and a toy ended up hitting the TV. This caused a small crack within the screen and a black bar to appear from top to bottom. Cummins was, to put it mildly, not pleased.

Recognizing that the problem didn’t involve a manufacturer’s defect, he was certain he’d have to pay for a repair. He contacted Best Buy, where he’d bought the TV. They told him to take up the matter with Sony.

A Sony service representative steered Cummins to a Northern California TV-repair company called Precision Television, where a technician said he couldn’t fix the set because Sony doesn’t make the necessary parts available.

Cummins called Sony back. This time, he said, a service rep instructed him to contact Sony’s supplier and confirm that the parts truly were unavailable. Why Sony couldn’t do this itself, neither Cummins nor I can say.

But Cummins chased down the supplier and, indeed, no parts. He called Sony again. A supervisor said the only thing the company could do was offer a 15% discount on a new TV. He said he’d email a coupon.

“I waited a week,” Cummins recalled. “Nothing ever came.”

At this point he remembered something the Precision Television technician had mentioned. The guy said he’d faced this issue in the past and believed the Lemon Law could help.

Cummins checked it out.

Section 1793.03 of the Lemon Law stipulates that any manufacturer of a TV, stereo, computer or similar electronic device worth at least $100 “shall make available to service and repair facilities … functional parts to effect the repair of a product for at least seven years after the date a product model or type was manufactured.”

It also says spare parts must be available “regardless of whether the seven-year period exceeds the warranty period for the product.”

A spokesman for California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris confirmed to me that “replacement parts for many electronic goods have to be available for up to seven years.”

Cummins called Sony yet again, and this time he was armed for bear. When a service rep indicated that there was nothing to be done, Cummins cited the Song-Beverly Act. Take a good, hard look at Section 1793.03, he said.

The service rep said he’d pass that along to his superiors. The next day, Cummins was informed that he’d be getting a new TV.

There are a number of things here that merit scrutiny. Why did Sony make a customer jump through so many hoops? Why was it the customer’s responsibility to determine the availability of parts? Why did a customer seemingly have to educate the company about its legal responsibility?

A Sony spokesman said he didn’t have enough information to comment on Cummins’ experience.

Norman Taylor, a Glendale attorney, said the Lemon Law offers manufacturers little wiggle room when it comes to repairs.

“The plain meaning of the statute is that they have to provide parts, even though it goes beyond the warranty,” he said. “If they can’t do that, they have to make good some other way.”

To me, the lesson here is that makers of pricey consumer electronics better be flexible if they choose not to have plenty of spare parts on hand. The law isn’t on their side.

And it’s entirely possible that, as Cummins found, you’ll have teach the company about the law. Even some of the attorneys I spoke with were surprised to discover that the Lemon Law addresses replacement parts for out-of-warranty electronics.

Cummins’ advice to others: Don’t give up, even if a company appears to be deliberately throwing obstacles in your path.

“What I learned is that it takes a lot to get something like this done,” he said.

The replacement TV arrived Wednesday. It was broken. There’s a purple line running vertically across the screen.

As of Thursday, Cummins said he was dealing with multiple Sony service reps to get it replaced.

David Lazarus’ columns runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5 and followed on Twitter @Davidlaz. Send your tips or feedback to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

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Average taxes on wireless bills in California reach a record 18%

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