Nebraska Considers Puppy Lemon Law

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on January 26th, 2009

Nebraska State Senator and retired veterinarian M.L. “Cap” Dierks has introduced LB 588, the “Dog and Cat Purchase Protection Act,” which would effectively curb inhumane puppy mills and cat breeding facilities. The law would require breeders and pet shops to provide written disclosures to consumers, and require consumers to have a new pet checked by a veterinarian within four days of purchase to be accorded protections under this puppy lemon law. If the pet were found to have a serious health problem or congenital defect, the consumer would be entitled to a refund of the purchase price, a new pet, or reimbursement for veterinary fees.

The bill was introduced on January 21, and was referred to the Agriculture Committee, of which Senator Dierks is a member, on January 23.

Georgia Enacts Expanded Lemon Law

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on January 25th, 2009

If you’re a Georgia peach who buys a lemon of a vehicle, the state’s expanded Lemon Law will be a welcome relief. Consumers who buy or lease a new car after January 1, 2009 now have greater protections than they used to. According to a press release from the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs:

“Other than a house, a new car is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make in your lifetime,” says Joe Doyle, Administrator of The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs, the agency which administers the Lemon Law. “Our agency is adamant about helping protect this major investment on behalf of Georgia consumers.”

One of the main improvements of the revised law is that the Lemon Law Rights period has doubled from 12 months/12,000 miles to 24 months/24,000 miles, which is great news to consumers whose vehicle problems don’t emerge until the second year of ownership. In addition, the maximum gross vehicle weight rating requirements have increased from 10,000 pounds to 12,000 pounds, extending coverage to bigger trucks such as most versions of the Ford F350, Dodge Ram 3500, Chevrolet Silverado 3500 and GMC Sierra 3500.

What’s more, the revised Lemon Law has broadened its scope to include more small businesses. “The current economic crisis has been particularly tough on small businesses,” says Mr. Doyle. “The new Lemon Law will provide many of these businesses with protections that could save them thousands of dollars in vehicle repair or replacement costs”.

That’s excellent news indeed!

Lemon Law Helps with Assistive Technologies

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on January 22nd, 2009

Recently, when I was browsing an article at examiner.com, I was reminded about an important Connecticut Lemon Law that’s often overlooked: Connecticut’s Assistive Technology Lemon Law. In a nutshell, if you buy or lease an assistive device, it’s covered for the length of the manufacturer’s warranty term or two years from the date of delivery – whichever is longer. Similar to auto lemon laws, the AT Lemon Law states that the defect has to impair the safety, use, or value of the assistive device.

The law says that, when there’s a defect, the manufacturer or dealer has to repair it within 10 days. If it takes longer to repair it, or if it’s the third repair attempt, the manufacturer has to reimburse you for the cost of an alternative AT device. After three repair attempts or after the AT device has been out of service for 30 days, you have the right to ask for a comparable replacement or a refund (including interest and finance charges). If you’ve leased the device, you can request either a replacement or early termination of the lease and a refund of monies paid. Similar to auto lemon laws, the amount refunded can be reduced an amount in alignment with how long you’ve used the device.

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.

Maine: Resisting the Lure of Extended Warranties

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on January 6th, 2009

The former Director of the Maine Lemon Law program, Carol Roberts, wrote an excellent piece for the Kennebec Morning Sentinel about Maine’s consumer warranty laws and the uselessness of extended warranties. She notes that Maine law provides for an implied warranty that “protects most goods and services for up to four years if the product is seriously defective, is still within its useful life (meaning it has not worn out), and has not been abused.”

She goes on to say that extended warranties are really service contracts, for which Americans spend $16 billion each year, and that provide sellers with a 40-80% profit margin.

Next time you think about buying an extended warranty, it’s worth your while to look into your state’s consumer protection laws and see if it’s really necessary.