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November 1, 2013

Lawsuit Alleges Ford Deducted Improper Amounts in Violation of California’s Lemon Law

In a putative class action lawsuit, a California consumer represented by Payam Shahian of Strategic Legal Practices with co-counsel alleged that Ford used improper deductions to shortchange customers who purchased and leased defective vehicles. Among other claims, the lawsuit alleged that Ford deducted amounts for “abnormal wear or collision damage” in violation of California’s Lemon Law.

California’s Lemon Law provides consumers with important—and clear—legal rights when they purchase or lease defective vehicles. When a vehicle qualifies as a “lemon” under the law, the purchaser or lessee is entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle, and the manufacturer is only entitled to certain limited deductions.

Manufacturers Have Clear Obligations Under California’s Lemon Law

Unfortunately, this does not stop manufacturers from trying to pay less than they owe. As one example, as covered by Law360, our firm handled a case against Ford involving allegations that the company was reducing the price it paid to repurchase consumers’ vehicles when providing replacements based on “abnormal wear or collision damage.” As alleged in the complaint:

“From plaintiffs and other class members’ repurchase price or replacement vehicles, Ford uniformly and improperly deducted various amounts beyond the predelivery mileage offset, including deductions for abnormal wear or collision damage. . . . [California’s Lemon Law] does not allow for such deductions.”

In the case, Mr. Shahian and co-counsel also alleged that Ford refused to provide restitution for various costs that are expressly covered under the law. These included sales tax, license fees, registration fees, insurance, service contracts, and incidental costs such as towing and rental car expenses.

The case arose out of our client’s purchase of a Ford F-150. Our client’s truck began having transmission problems after just a few weeks, and, after multiple repair attempts, he requested that Ford repurchase the truck under California’s Lemon Law. Ford agreed to repurchase the truck, but it deducted the cost of repairing the truck’s cracked windshield, and it also refused to refund the cost of our client’s insurance and service contracts purchased through the dealership. Together, these alleged violations of the law cost our client thousands of dollars he was entitled to receive.

Cases like this one are not uncommon. California’s Lemon Law provides consumers with clear legal rights, and complying with the law is expensive for vehicle manufacturers. As a result, vehicle manufacturers like Ford routinely dispute consumers’ claims under the law—often hoping that consumers will simply get frustrated and go away.

For this reason, California’s Lemon Law requires manufacturers to pay consumers’ legal fees following successful claims. This provision ensures that consumers are able to hold manufacturers accountable, and it provides a financial disincentive for manufacturers to improperly deny valid claims for refunds and replacement vehicles under the law.

Do You Have a California Lemon Law Claim?

If you would like to know more about your rights under California’s Lemon Law, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with a lawyer at Strategic Legal Practices in confidence, please call 888-757-5366 or request an appointment online today.