A judge has ordered Mercedes-Benz USA LLC to pay $482,000 in damages and legal fees to a Wisconsin customer who was sold a defective car and not given a refund on time. The conflict had been ongoing for four years and remains one of the largest cases involving a single car under a state lemon law.
Car owner Marco Marquez, a 37-year-old businessman from Waukesha, purchased the E 320 for $56,000 from a Milwaukee dealership in 2005. Almost immediately, the car often would not start, and despite replacing the battery, the problem continued. After several repair attempts, the dealership said the problem could not be fixed.
Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman Donna Boland said the company, a unit of the German car maker Daimler AG, is disappointed the judge overturned an earlier verdict in favor of the company. On Friday, the company’s lawyer asked the court to put the judgment on hold pending an appeal.
Marquez hired a lawyer who sent the company a refund demand in October 2005. The company agreed to the refund, but failed to provide one within 30 days. On the 31st day, Marquez’s lemon lawyer filed the lawsuit on behalf of Marquez seeking double damages and attorneys’ fees.
Mercedes-Benz acknowledged the car was defective, but accused Marquez of acting in bad faith.The company says an employee asked Marquez for information about his auto loan on the 30th day so the refund could be granted, but Marquez failed to follow through. Marquez’s lawyer claims Mercedes-Benz had the information it needed for the refund but was stalling.
A judge ruled in Marquez’s favor in 2007, awarding $202,000 in damages and legal fees. But an appeals court in 2008 overturned that decision and ordered additional proceedings, saying a jury should decide whether Marquez intentionally prevented the company from giving the refund on time.
A jury sided with the company last year, agreeing Marquez acted in bad faith. But in a rare move, Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren overturned the verdict, saying it was not backed up by evidence. He ruled in Marquez’s favor, citing a clear “lack of urgency” by Mercedes-Benz to refund his money.
In the meantime, Marquez has continued to drive the vehicle in question, which now has 56,000 miles. He said it was back in the shop for repairs twice last year but has been drivable.
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. Find more information at www.mylemon.com or call 1-800-MyLemon.
Source: The Associated Press