Lemon Law in India? Yes, Sir!

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on April 29th, 2008

city-of-jaipur-28.jpgContinuing on our international theme, I found this article about the Lemon Law in India, of all places.   Having traveled to India recently, I was pleased to see that lemon laws exist in that part of the world.   city-of-jaipur-25.jpg

The fellow described in the article has just apparently won relief from the Delhi Consumer Commission which directed the car maker to replace the vehicle’s defective engine

The car maker was directed by the government agency to replace the engine of the car purchased by Jitesh Kumar Gupta with a new one and also pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 ($249.00) for mental agony and harassment in addition to the cost of litigation. 

Gupta had noticed a knocking noise in the engine of his Santro Car soon after its purchase from in November, 1998.  As is common across the globe, the car manufacturer denied liability.   Mr. Gupta proceeded in Court and eventually won.

Though I note it took him 9 years to finally get the relief he sought in court. I guess something is better than nothing, and I’m glad that persistence paid off for Mr. Gupta, though I wonder how my impatient clients would react if their cases took that long to resolve.

Lemon Lawyering – How Is Our Practice Run?

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on April 28th, 2008

Carolyn Elefant, who is an inspiration to hundreds, if not thousands of lawyers starting their own shop, recently wrote about a New York immigration attorney who ran a volume immigration practice. Aparently the fellow ran into trouble with the lawyer oversight folks for taking on too many clients at low dollar figures, which inevitably jeopardized the quality of his work. The problem:

Liu’s carelessly written form briefs (where he sometimes neglected to change the sections describing the facts) ultimately landed him in hot water with the Second Circuit, which referred him to the court’s disciplinary committee for his “seriously deficient work.”

Now, we try as hard as we can to do an excellent job for each one of our clients. But consumer law, probably like immigration law, is by its very nature a ‘volume’ practice. That is, we have many clients whose cases we handle each month, and our business largely depends not on billing one or several clients, but on successfully resolving many different cases.

This model for a law practice isn’t inherenly bad, I don’t think; moreover, it may be the only way to practice in certain areas of the law. If lemon lawyers didn’t run their practices representing many clients, perhaps those clients wouldn’t be able to obtain legal representation at all. The same is true for immigration law, other areas of consumer law, bankruptcy law and many other legal fields.

So the problem isn’t the business model. The problem comes up when practitioners forget that they practice law, not run a chop shop of a legal practice where spare parts from one client’s brief can be welded onto another case.

Lemon Law & Aftermarket Parts

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on April 27th, 2008

300px-stop_hand_caution_svg.pngOh boy, this is a PAINFUL topic. There is nothing like a good after-market alarm or Sirius satelite system, dealer-installed sunroof, or remote starter to ruin a perfectly good lemon law claim.  The dirt on aftermarket additions is this — buyer beware. If you want to keep your warranty intact, I suggest you avoid all of the above-mentioned items (and similar ones) entirely, for they are not, ever, covered under the lemon law or under the manufacturer’s warranty. And any damage they do to the vehicle is your own fault, even if the dealer installed it.

Over the course of the last 6 months, we’ve had perfectly good lemon law law cases turn sour when it turned out that clients had tinkered with their vehicles. Examples include a dealer-installed sunroof on a Chrysler Pacifica, a remote starter on a Ford Econoline, an engine booster on a Ford F-550, a spoiler on a Honda Accord, a navigation system on a Volvo, and a Sirius satelite system on a Jeep. All these severely interefered with the vehicles’ performance but were not covered by the lemon law.

What’s worse, even if the car malfunctions for reasons unconnected with the after-market installation and is repurchased by the manufacturer as a ‘lemon’, it is unlikely that the automaker will reimburse for after-market installations.

So today’s lesson is this: if you want to be protected, ensure that all options on your vehicle are installed by the manufacturer and not the dealer.

NY Lemon Law – Days In, Days Out

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on April 25th, 2008

lemon_clock_c.jpgThe New York lemon law provides that a vehicle that has been out of service by reason of repair for 30 days or more qualifies for a repurchase or replacement. But how are the days counted? Frequently, cars are stuck in dealer lots waiting for parts or just simply sit around waiting to get repaired. So the question often comes up whether these “stuck at the dealer” days count as ‘out-of-service’ days under the lemon law? Or does the clock stop ticking if, say, it cannot repair the vehicle for a few days or the FedEx guy doesn’t deliver a package with parts on time.

This issue was addressed by the New York Civil Court in the case of Nulud v. Mercedes-Benz. During the lemon law period, Mr. Nulud’s car was stuck a number of days at the dealer, but the repairs were actually performed within a short span of time. So the court had to decide whether all out-of-service days, or just those when the work is performed, count under the lemon law.

The decision went in favor of the consumer. The court held that all ‘at the dealer’ days count for purposes of the lemon law, not just the days when the dealer gets around to making vehicle repairs. To me, this makes perfect sense, and if it were not the law, dealers would always take their sweet old time fixing cars rather than at least try to move in a jiffy, as the lemon law requires.

The Lemon Law Bug is Spreading Worldwide

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on April 24th, 2008

map-of-philippines.gifFollowing last month’s posts on lemon law in other countries, I was pleased to see this article on the proposed lemon law legislation in the Philippines.  Philippines, I will remind you, is the same country that has a death penalty for dealing drugs, has banned chewing gum from schools, and imprisons people for loitering.

But even in the Phillipines, it is thought that car buyers need not be at the mercy of manufacturers and their dealers. This of course was the same idea that prompted the passage of the “Lemon Law” in the United States.  The proposed ”Philippine Lemon Law,” just like its American counterparts,  provides that a motor vehicle shall be presumed to be a “lemon” when certain conditions are met, namely, that the vehicle was purchased in the Philippines; the reported defect must substantially impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle; the failure to repair the defect must have been brought to the attention of the manufacturer or seller within the first 12 months or 12,000 miles; and the vehicle has been out of service due to the same defect for at least 30 days when no repair has been successfully made in spite of a number of attempts.

As I prepare for a dealer deposition this coming Friday, I wonder if flogging the dealer or some other form of corporal punishment wouldn’t be better suited….