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Lawyer turns car lemons to lemonade

Here’s the text of the Daily News story:

January 22, 2008

By Josh Max

"To put it bluntly, I hate to see people get screwed," says lemon law lawyer Sergei Lemberg. "So I unscrew them."

Client Jimmy Orsaris bought a 2007 Cadillac Escalade and, he says, "From Day One I had problems. Tranny flopping, engine knocking. I must have brought it back 10-15 times over seven months. I got the complete runaround." Orsaris' personal lawyer said he couldn't touch the case, the Queens resident says. "One night a friend of mine called me and told me to Google 'lemon law.' I found Sergei. In a month and a half, I got a check. He took care of it." The 34-year-old Connecticut-based Lemberg opened his doors just two years ago, but has already found liaising between the consumer, dealers and auto manufacturers more rewarding than his previous tenure in bigger law firms.

"Most manufacturers have an unspoken 'no lawyer, no money' policy," he says, meaning that unless a lawyer contacts them, a consumer with a complaint often isn't taken seriously. "Auto manufacturers never, ever accommodate consumers who don't have legal representation. Doing what I do, I can very frequently take this very bad situation and dramatically improve it, and I never have to charge clients legal fees, which I hate doing anyway, unlike most lawyers."

Carmine Maiorano bought a Dodge Magnum and says the car was in the shop for a total of eight months over the year he tried to get various problems addressed. "I had problems with the sunroof, first of all," he says. "When it rained, it came down on my head. They destroyed the interior to fix the sunroof — punched holes in the seats, for example. The car also had transmission problems — it was clicking when I put it in reverse.

"I tried a number of things to rectify the problems. Every time I got the vehicle back there was something new wrong with it."

Maiorano booted up the computer, searched for "lemon law" and found Lemberg. "He took care of the problem in about four months," Maiorano says. "The company reimbursed me my deposit and payments." The Queens resident now drives a Ford Explorer, he says, "And it works fine."

The lemon law in New York covers new vehicles for 18,000 miles or two years from delivery. A car is classified as a lemon if the same problem has been repaired four times and still exists, or if it has been out of service for more than 30 days during the lemon law period.

For a comprehensive overview of New York's lemon laws, visit the site of New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo at