In the wake of Chrysler’s bankruptcy, many individuals have been effected. Most thoughts go first to the automakers themselves, then the suppliers, on down to the individual car dealerships and their employees. There is one group that remains forgotten – and now it seems Chrysler is seeking to keep it that way.

Those persons who have brought Lemon Law and Breach of Warranty suits for their defective vehicles are in a state of limbo. All cases that are currently filed in state and federal courts are stayed. Anyone who had settled a lawsuit but had not yet been paid at the time Chrysler filed for bankruptcy has yet to see their recovery. This means that in addition to countless persons being owed money by Chrysler for unpaid claims, there are others whose vehicles were to be bought back by the manufacturer or replaced, and are now stuck with defective vehicles, or in the worst cases left without vehicles that the manufacturer had taken possession of and without the money to replace them.

Normally when a company emerges from bankruptcy those cases that were stayed may be re-listed by courts; the settled matters, if part of a bankruptcy sale, will be paid, giving consumers a light at the end of the tunnel. Chrysler, in its agreement of sale to Italian automaker Fiat, appears to oblige the purchaser to honor warranties and warranty based claims, their conduct however, appears a complete contradiction.

Having advocated for consumer rights for years, this is a troubling sign of things to come. Should Chrysler have all claims filed prior to the bankruptcy discharged, those consumers who purchased these defective products will be without any recourse. If General Motors files for bankruptcy June 1, we could see the same issues emerge. I urge all consumers to contact their state representatives and tell them to fight for their rights.

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