Archive for December, 2009

Toyota Has Yet to Formalize Buy Back Plan Under the Lemon Law

An article written by the Los Angeles Times insinuating that Toyota delayed recalls and deflected blame to human error has elicited some heated debate and an official response from Toyota. The LA Times investigation puts the death toll from unexpected, sudden acceleration of Toyota vehicles at 19 since 2001. While Toyota has issued its biggest recall to address the problem, it maintains publicly that proof of a defect is yet to be validated.

In response the suggestion the Toyota has withheld important safety information from consumers, the company released a statement asserting that ‘communications with consumers about safety recalls are strictly regulated and
Toyota adheres to these regulations. Toyota has absolutely not minimized public
awareness of any defect or issue with respect to its vehicles.’

The Los Angeles Times investigation reported that some Toyota consumers have had their vehicles bought back under lemon law for unintended or sudden acceleration. But Toyota indicates that is has no buy back policy.

‘Toyota has no policy to buy back vehicles under the Lemon Law or any other
buyback program for customers complaining of unintended or sudden
acceleration. The customers to whom you refer may have interacted with Toyota dealers who on their own have always been able to deal with dissatisfied customers to preserve goodwill.’

Despite the conflicting stories on consumer buy backs, the definitive cause and scope of acceleration issues, and the final outcome of the widespread recall, Toyota has settled several lawsuits related to sudden acceleration. Beyond the acknowledgement that ‘Toyota at times has resolved and will continue
to resolve matters with litigants through confidential settlement when it is in both
parties’ interests to do so’, there is no official comment by the company as to any specifics of the agreements.

“Anyone who owns a Toyota or any other vehicle who has suffered injury or loss of the use of their vehicle from an acceleration event should check with an experienced lemon law attorney in their state to see what remedies are available,” suggests David Gorberg, New Jersey and Pennsylvania lemon law attorney and founding partner of a lemon law firm. “The lemon laws are very different in every state, and these state guidelines determine the eligibility for compensation for each consumer.”

Some states have increased consumer lemon law protections. New Jersey’s Lemon Law, revised in October 2009, now allows a vehicle to be decalred a lemon after a single potentially harmful event. In New Jersey, car dealers are only granted ‘ one attempt to correct the defect if the defect is one that is likely to
cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven’.

While Toyota has taken some steps in terms of consumer notification and recalling vehicles, it is clear that the company has a distance to go to ease consumer concerns about the harmful potential of defects related to unexpected acceleration.

The Lemon Law Attorneys at David J. Gorberg & Associates have arbitrated, settled and litigated thousands of lemon law claims throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, recovering millions of dollars for their clients. More information at www.mylemon.com or by calling 1-800-MyLemon.

New Jersey Improves Lemon Law Consumer Notification

New Jersey took significant steps to improve consumer protection and the remedies available to consumers unfortunate enough to end up buying a lemon. With the new requirements, a copy of the revised New Jersey lemon law must be provided to consumer in bolded font at least 10 points or larger at the time a vehicle is purchased or leased.

The revised notification must state:
IMPORTANT: IF THIS VEHICLE HAS A DEFECT THAT SUBSTANTIALLY
IMPAIRS ITS USE, VALUE OR SAFETY, OR THAT IS LIKELY TO CAUSE DEATH OR SERIOUS BODILY INJURY IF DRIVEN, AND WAS PURCHASED, LEASED OR REGISTERED IN NEW JERSEY, YOU MAY BE ENTITLED UNDER NEW JERSEY’S LEMON LAW TO A REFUND OF THE PURCHASE PRICE OR YOUR LEASE PAYMENTS.

Here is a summary of your rights:

1. To qualify for relief under the New Jersey Lemon Law, you must give the manufacturer or its dealer the opportunity to repair or correct the defect in the vehicle within the Lemon Law’s term of protection, which is the first 24,000 miles of operation or two years after the vehicle’s original date of delivery, whichever is earlier.

2. If the manufacturer or its dealer is unable to repair or correct a defect within a reasonable time, you may be entitled to return the vehicle and receive a full refund, minus a reasonable allowance for vehicle use.

3. It is presumed that the manufacturer or its dealer is unable to repair or correct the defect if substantially the same defect continues to exist after the manufacturer has received written notice of the defect by certified mail, return receipt requested, and has had a final opportunity to correct the defect or condition within 10 calendar days after receipt of the notice. This notice must be received by the manufacturer within the term of protection and may be given only after (i) the manufacturer or its dealer has had two or more attempts to correct the defect; (ii), the manufacturer or its dealer has had at least one attempt to correct the defect if the defect is one that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven; or (iii) the vehicle has been out of service for repair for a cumulative total of 20 or more calendar days, or in the case of a motorhome, 45 or more days.

4. If substantially the same defect continues to exist after the manufacturer has had the final opportunity to repair or correct the defect, you may file an application for relief under New Jersey’s Lemon Law.

FOR COMPLETE INFORMATION REGARDING YOUR RIGHTS AND REMEDIES
UNDER THE RELEVANT LAW, INCLUDING THE MANUFACTURER’S ADDRESS
TO GIVE NOTICE OF THE DEFECT, CONTACT THE NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT
OF LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY, DIVISION OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS, LEMON
LAW UNIT, AT POST OFFICE BOX 45026, NEWARK, NEW JERSEY 07101, TEL. NO. (973) 504-6226.

In addition to outlining the notification of lemon law rights at the time of sale, the new lemon law in New Jersey increases the time frame within which consumers are eligible for compensation from 1 year to 2 years and the maximum mileage also extends from 12,000 to 24,000. This means that a New Jersey car owner can qualify for remedies within 2 years of purchase if their car has not exceeded 24,000 miles.

“We applaud the state of New Jersey for taking action to protect its consumers” says New Jersey Lemon Law attorney David Gorberg. “For most people, a vehicle is the most expensive asset outside of a home. People rely on their car for the safety of their family, and getting to work reliably. We need to make sure our residents are protected when things go wrong with the car they have invested in.”