Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Mercedes Lemon Law Verdict

Posted by sally on June 11th, 2012

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld what is the largest lemon law award in the state’s history. The case revolved around a consumer who sued Mercedes-Benz for a lemon E 320 sedan. A court ruled in the consumer’s favor, but an appellate court reversed the decision. The case when to trial and the jury found in favor of the consumer, who was later awarded $482,000. After yet another appeal, the Supreme Court took the case.

According to the Journal Sentinel report, “The carmaker argued it tried to provide a refund within the 30 days allowed by the Lemon Law, but that Marquez stalled in order to trigger the double damages and attorney fees allowed if a manufacturer doesn’t meet the deadline.” The Supreme Court rejected that argument, saying that the manufacturer had the burden of proving that the consumer intentionally prevented the refund within the 30-day timeframe.

Wisconsin Lemon Owner Gets Huge Award from GM

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on January 18th, 2009

It’s no wonder that General Motors needs a bailout from the federal government. Perhaps the automaker wouldn’t be in such a financial mess if they stood by their products, fixed defects, and did the right thing by their customers. Whether or not GM learned its lesson is up for debate, but the manufacturer got more than a wrist slap when a jury awarded Wisconsin plumber Todd Van Natta $120,000 in damages, plus $259,000 for his attorney fees. When taking into account the money GM had to pay its own attorneys, Van Natta’s lemon law attorney Vince Menga noted, “GM turned a $35,000 issue into a $550,000 problem.”

According to an Associated Press story, Van Natta’s 2007 GMC Sierra Classic lost its power steering at slow speeds, a problem that reportedly also plagued the Chevrolet Avalanche, Tahoe, Suburban, and Silverado Classic, as well as the GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade, and Hummer H2. In fact, Van Natta had previously prevailed in a lemon law arbitration hearing for the same problem in a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado.

Despite the pattern of steering problems with these vehicles, and an internal GM bulletin that acknowledged the problem existed, the automaker argued that the power steering loss was a normal characteristic of the truck. AP quotes arbitrator Henry Koltz as ruling, “This arbitrator cannot find any basis upon which a defect, simply because it exists and is apparently unable to be fixed, transforms from a defect to an apparently normal ‘characteristic of the vehicle.” We agree wholeheartedly, and commend Van Natta and Menga for their perseverance in getting justice for the lemons.