Missouri Farm Lemon Law

April 20, 2010

The Missouri state lemon law only applies to “vehicles propelled by power other than muscular power” and typically excludes vehicles normally used for a commercial purpose.

But in 1987, Missouri passed a Missouri Farm Lemon Law, almost identical to the Missouri Lemon Law. The most critical difference is that the Missouri Farm Lemon Law specifically applies to Farm Machinery. Farm Machinery is almost any self-propelled equipment or machinery used for agricultural purposes.

Like the Missouri Lemon Law for cars and trucks, the Missouri farm Lemon Law covers new farm machinery purchased in the last 18 months. If you have been to the dealership five or more times for repair attempts or if your machinery has been at the dealership for more than 30 working days, then you may be able to ask the manufacturer to take the vehicle back and refund your money.

If you have any questions about this law, please contact Law Office of Bryan Brody.

Deceptive Extended Warranties

April 20, 2010

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act covers “service contracts,” frequently referred to as extended warranties. But the extended warranty most consumer receive is not an extension of the factory warranty, but a new contract from  company that may not have a consumer’s best interests in mind.

Missouri’s Attorney General recently sued 6 local extended warranty companies. The six warranty companies are:

  • National Dealers Warranty, Inc., a.k.a. StopRepairBills.com
  • Warranty Activation Headquarters, Inc., a.k.a. Nationwide Automotive Protection
  • Extended Warranty Corporation, Inc., a.k.a. Key Protection Group
  • Dealers Warranty, LLC, a.k.a. MOGI
  • U.S. Auto Warranty
  • Dealer Warranty Services

Unfortunately, many consumers will not benefit from a lawsuit filed by the government. The Attorney General has asked for “full restitution” for victims, but is unlikely, or unable, to speak to each of those victims individually.

Nor is the deception limited to those companies. Missouri’s Attorney General has also announced “a task force to look at sales practice guidelines designed to stop auto service contract fraud.” A primary concern is a new service contract, billed as an extended warranty, with coverage much worse than what a consumer had through the manufacturer.

One proposed solution is through regulation. In general, it appears most manufacturers and extended warranty companies tend to the bare minimum required by law. If no law exists, there is little financial incentive to try to satisfy consumers.

Another option is for individual consumers can hire their own attorneys to sue the extended warranty companies.

Finally, if a problem was first reported during the original factory warranty, the manufacturer may still retain responsibility for repairing the defect. The manufacturer’s warranty requires the issue to be corrected, regardless of whether the attempts take longer than the length of the warranty.

Extended Warranty Lemon Law

April 19, 2010

The federal lemon law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, clearly states that a consumer can sue a “a supplier, warrantor or service contractor” to comply with ” any obligation…under a written warranty, implied warranty, or service contract.” 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d)(1). Based on this language, several courts have upheld the right of a consumer to file a lawsuit based on an unreasonable number of repair attempts paid for by an extended warranty.

Even though a consumer can sue, there are still several questions to answer. First, how long does a consumer have to file the lawsuit? Like for other federal lemon law cases, a consumer should have at least 4 years from the date of purchase of the extended warranty, though that date might be extended. How many repairs are unreasonable? Like the Missouri lemon law, four or more repairs is unreasonable, though fewer may also qualify as unreasonable.

The most interesting question is how much a consumer can recover. Many manufacturers and extended warranty companies try to claim that a consumer is limited to the purchase price of the extended wararnty. But that does not seem to be what the legislature intended, nor would it be fair to a consumer. Consider if a nonconformity with a vehicle resulted in the complete l0ss of use of the vehicle. Because the nonconformity would impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle, not the extended warranty, a consumer should be able to recover the diminution of the value of vehicle itself.

Be sure to investigate the extended warranty company before paying money for their product.

Another Toyota Recall

April 18, 2010

Toyota has announced yet another recall, this time for the Sienna minivans. Initial reports suggested 600,000 minivans were affected, but that number may be closer to 870,000.  Rust could cause the spare tire to brake loose and come off a vehicle. There does not yet appear to be a fix for the problem, though it remains Toyota’s responsibility to correct the potential nonconformity.

About the Lemon Laws

April 15, 2010

If you own a product you feel is defective or does not meet your expectations, a “lemon law” can provide additional help, beyond just another repair attempt and another repair attempt and another repair attempt…

The word “lemon” has been used to refer to something that is unsatisfactory since Shakespeare, in “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” Act V, Scene II.  The first “lemon law” to protect vehicle owners was passed in Connecticut in 1982. That law is still on the books as Title 42, Chapter 743b of the General Statutes of Connecticut.  Since then, all 50 states have passed a lemon law, including Missouri in 1984.

The Missouri state lemon law covers new vehicles purchased in the last 18 months. If you have been to the dealership four or more times for repair attempts or if your vehicle has been at the dealership for more than 30 days, then you may be able to ask the manufacturer to take the vehicle back and refund your money.

In 1975, the federal government passed a law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act,  designed to protect consumers of almost product, including cars and trucks and electronics and appliances, as long as it came with a warranty.

If your product has had an unreasonable number of repair attempts , or has been at the dealership for an unreasonable length of time, then you may be able to recover money and keep the product to do with as you please.

Furthermore, if your vehicle still has an ongoing problem, then the manufacturer may have breached the warranty, meaning the manufacturer may owe you money because they have been unable, or unwilling, to actually fix the vehicle.

Law Office of Bryan Brody has experience with these laws and more.  Please contact us to obtain more information about how we might be able to help you.

How To Choose a Lemon Lawyer

April 14, 2010

Welcome to Law Office of Bryan Brody, a Missouri law practice dedicating to helping Missouri consumers.

My office is in Chesterfield, a suburb of St. Louis, and I am able to represent clients in all 114 counties (and the independent City of St. Louis).

If you have a defective product, such as a car or truck, follow this link to learn how the “lemon laws” can help you.

Lemon Law and Product Liability

April 13, 2010

Toyota has again had to ask dealers to cease sale of one of its vehicles. The Lexus GX 460 is at an increased risk for rollovers during turns, according to tests performed by Consumer Reports. No reports of injuries or deaths have been reported so far.

If a person is injured because of a defect, often an attorney will bring a product liability lawsuit. In that kind of case, a consumer can allege a design defect or manufacturing defect without any previous symptoms. A typical lemon law case, however, tends to focus on the unreasonable repair history.

In a product liability lawsuit, the damages award is often to compensate a victim for injuries suffered because of the design defect of manufacturing defect, and for non-economic damages, often called pain and suffering damages.  A lemon law case rarely involves injuries, though repeat repair attempts could create a safety hazard.

It is possible for an vehicle incident to be both a lemon law case and a product liability case. For example, there may have already been an unreasonable number of repair attempts and the ongoing problem with the vehicle resulted in injuries.

Bringing a lemon law case has some advantages. First, if a consumer prevails, the consumer can be awarded attorney’s fees. Second, a lemon law case can measure damages in two ways: the loss of value of the vehicle, and consequential damages, like medical bills. Third, proving an unreasonable repair history is often much easier than trying to prove how a manufacturer incorrectly designed or built the vehicle.

As more defects are discovered with vehicles, like the Lexus GX 460, more consumers may realize that the problems match the same symptoms they have been reporting for some time.

Substantially Impair the Use, Value, or Safety

April 11, 2010

The Missouri lemon law allows a manufacturer to try to prove that the problems with a consumer’s vehicle do not substantially impair the use, market value, or safety. If a vehicle has had 4 or more repair attempts, but the nonconformities are not serious, a manufacturer may not have to repurchase or replace the vehicle.

Missouri courts have held that whether the issues with a vehicle are “substantial” should be left to a jury. This means the manufacturer may make the argument, but will have to wait until trial to do so.

Whether a problem impairs the use of a vehicle should be analyzed from the perspective of the consumer. A manufacturer would otherwise always claim that the nonconformity was not  substantial. Even a small option may have been important to the vehicle owner. Furthermore, each component is important, because  every component is necessary to have the use of a complete vehicle.

Almost all repeat repair attempts would ultimately affect the value of a vehicle. Imagine if a consumer was about to purchase a vehicle, but right before they signed the purchase agreement, the salesman informed the consumer that the vehicle was going to require at least 4 repair attempts. Most reasonable consumers would no longer pay the same amount as they would have before learning of the issues.

The safety of the consumer is of paramount importance. If a vehicle’s problems could cause injury to the owner, or others on the road, the consumer should not be driving it. Often, though, a consumer has little choice but to continue driving a vehicle. The Missouri lemon law should help take such vehicles off the road before an accident occurs.

Out-of-state cars and the Missouri Lemon Law

April 5, 2010

Sometimes, a vehicle is purchased or repaired or is currently parked in a state other than Missouri, even though the owner is currenlty a Missouri resident. The Missouri lemon law covers this situation.

The Missouri lemon law applies to a vehicle purchased in another state if “any material fact in connection with the sale or advertisement”  was “in or from the state of Missouri.”  The law does not specifically say what a material fact is, but Missouri courts  will “liberally construe” the term, meaning they will consider a wide range of conduct. Materials facts may include the residence of the purchaser, the location of the bank where the down payment money originated, the location of the lien holder, advertisements placed in Missouri, or even repair  attempts that were performed in Missouri. 

Furthermore, the Missouri lemon law applies to any product “wherever situated,” as long as the product directly or indirectly affects the people of Missouri. Even if a car originated in another state, and even if material facts regarding the sale of the car were not in or from Missouri, the lemon law may still apply. Perhaps the vehicle now resides in Missouri, or did so for a crucial period of the repair history.

The Missouri lemon law does not require that every relevant fact has occured in Missouri.  If a consumer can show a connection to Missouri, and the vehicle otherwise meets the Missouri lemon law requirements, a Missouri judge is more likely to want to rule based on the Missouri lemon law than on another states’ law.

About Our Firm

Law Office of Bryan Brody LLC was founded to focus on consumer protection law. My goal is to distinguish the attorney-client relationship from the frustrating consumer experience. I will always strive to make sure my clients have the benefit of my knowledge and experience. Continue reading »

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