African American woman checking the hood of her car.

California Supreme Court Expands Consumers’ Damages in Lemon Law Cases (Kirzhner v. Mercedes-Benz)

The California Supreme Court recently expanded the remedies available to lemon law plaintiffs in its long-awaited decision in the matter, Kirzhner v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (Cal., July 27, 2020, No. S246444) 2020 WL 4280966, at *22020 (“Kirzhner”).   In Kirzhner, the Supreme Court tackled the question as to whether, in a lemon law case, an automobile manufacturer should be required to reimburse registration renewal and nonoperation fees? Specifically, should the reimbursement be recoverable as collateral charges or as incidental damages? The California Supreme Court answered, essentially, yes – such damages are recoverable when they flow from the automakers’ violation of the Song-Beverly Act (the “Act”).

The fact in Kirzhner were fairly straightforward: Plaintiff Allen Kirzhner leased a new vehicle from Mercedes in 2012. He alleged that during the warranty period, his vehicle exhibited numerous defects that ultimately led to a malfunctioning command system, navigation system, and key fob. These defects also caused the steering column adjustment mechanism and power seats to be inoperative, the coolant level warning light to illuminate, and smoke to emanate from the cigarette lighter. As is the story in most lemon law cases, Mercedes was still unable to repair the defects after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

After filing suit, Mr. Kirzhner ultimately accepted a settlement offer made by Mercedes pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure §998 about six months into litigation. Instead of specifying a monetary amount in the settlement offer, Mercedes offered Mr. Kirzhner a replacement vehicle or restitution in exchange for the vehicle. Mr. Kirzhner opted for restitution and was awarded upwards of $47,000 by the trial court. However, while this sum included the initial registration fee that Mr. Kirzhner paid upon entering into the lease, it did not include the registration renewal fees and nonoperation fees totaling $680 paid in 2013 and 2014. Mr. Kirzhner took exception to the Court’s failure to award these fees because, he claimed, they arose from Mercedes’ failure to comply with the Act.  Mr. Kirzhner appealed and the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court ruling that the only registration fee that could be considered “collateral” is one that is paid at the time the vehicle is purchased or leased.  Mr. Kirzhner appealed, again!

Our Supreme Court analyzed Civil Code §1790 of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, commonly known as the “lemon law,” allows consumers with a “lemon” to choose one of two remedies: a replacement vehicle or restitution. More specifically, §1793.2 of the Act states that “the manufacturer shall make restitution in an amount equal to the actual price paid or payable by the buyer…including any collateral charges such as sales or use tax, license fees, registration fees, and other official fees, plus any incidental damages to which the buyer is entitled under §1794…”

In Kirzhner, the Court concluded that based on the plain language of §1794, subsequent registration renewal and nonoperation fees are not recoverable collateral charges because these charges are not collateral to the price paid for the vehicle. The Court reasoned that the initial registration fee is a recoverable collateral charge, like a sales or use tax, because it is a price paid as part of the total cost of the vehicle and in exchange for the vehicle. Contrastingly, a registration renewal fee or nonoperation fee is one that is paid to the DMV during the course of the lease or ownership, and so cannot be classified as a “collateral charge.”

While the fees were deemed unrecoverable as collateral charges, the Court held that they are recoverable as incidental damages if they were incurred as a result of the automakers’ failure to promptly provide a replacement vehicle or restitution once its obligation under §1793.2 arises. Subsection (d)(2) provides that a buyer may recover restitution “plus any incidental damages to which the buyer is entitled under §1794, including, but not limited to, reasonable repair, towing, and rental car costs actually incurred by the buyer.” Further, California Uniform Commercial Code §2715 defines “incidental damages” as including expenses “reasonably incurred in inspection, receipt, transportation and care and custody of goods rightfully rejected, any commercially reasonable charges, expenses or commissions in connection with effecting cover and any other reasonable expense incident to the delay or other breach.”

Therefore, the Supreme Court remanded the case for the trial Court to make a determination as to whether or not the additional registration fees were incurred as a result of Mercedes’ failure to promptly replace/repurchase the vehicle. 

While Kirzhner is seemingly over only $680, the decision has broad implications for California lemon law matters:

  • Kirzhner allows lemon law plaintiffs to pursue registration renewal fees beyond year-one of ownership, if they were incurred as a result of the automakers’ failure to repurchase/replace the vehicle.  In other words, if the automaker should have bought the car back, registration fees incurred after the vehicle should have been repurchased are now available. 
  • Other incidental damages – such as insurance premiums, maintenance charges, and other charges incurred for the care and custody of the vehicle are also, potentially, available now. 
  • Importantly, our Supreme Court confirmed that manufacturers possess an “affirmative duty” to voluntarily repurchase defective or unfixable vehicles, even without the consumer asking that they do so. 

If you have questions regarding your lemon law claim, we invite you to learn more about CCA and call our experts today for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-FIRM. 

automatic system in the interior of a car

Automatic Emergency Braking Systems and Lemon Law

By: Michael H. Rosenstein

CCA’s attorneys are receiving more and more complaints regarding defective automatic emergency braking systems (“AEB Systems”).  These defective systems have been identified in various models across different brands. The problems impacting vehicles with this new technology are grave and require a solution immediately. Poorly designed AEB systems are responsible for a number of accidents and near-miss cases. Large automobile manufacturers such as Toyota, Volkswagen, Honda, and others have fallen prey to this problem.  Fortunately, California’s strong lemon laws provide solutions to consumers when automakers are unable to appropriately warrant their AEB Systems. 

What is an AEB System?

The Automatic Emergency Braking System is a preventive technology that aims to reduce and protect the vehicle from fatal crashes. The system works by scanning the road using cameras/radars to detect the possibility of collisions with another object. Studies have shown that an AEB is not 100% effective in all situations, however; if designed properly, it is designed greatly reduces the risk and the severity of the impact.

What Are Some Signs of a Defective AEB System?

A defective AEB could cause your car to exhibit any one of the following signs:

  • Stalling – The car would slow down unexpectedly without the driver pressing the brakes and no obstacles in front of the car. The AEB should not be active if the car is under 10-15 MPH, so unexpected stalling in places like parking lots or garages could be caused due to a defective AEB.
  • Sudden Stop – The car would stop abruptly without the driver’s influence. This could happen when the AEB sensor is obscured or defective. If the sensor detects an object right ahead and the car is above a certain speed, it would brake the car suddenly to prevent a possible collision. A defective sensor would produce erroneous readings causing the car to react unpredictably.
  • Difficulty Starting The Vehicle – The car could have trouble starting up. As in, the car would switch on and the engine would start normally, but it would turn right back off after a few seconds. This could be due to a defective AEB that is turning off the car expecting an imminent collision.

Over the years, a number of customers have expressed their concerns over faulty AEBs and the risks that come with it. The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, notably has multiple complaints regarding a faulty AEB. Almost all the complaints cite that the car sudden and unexpected braking. A Volkswagen Atlas customer complained, “The car stops on its own while driving, all lights on dash illuminate, and the car starts again as if nothing happened”.

Another customer complaint stated, “The Atlas automatic braking system took over and put my car to a complete stop on the highway and I was unable to apply the gas to keep going until I put the car in park, shut off the car and restart”.

Many of the complaints regarding the Atlas exhibited a common theme: the system only activates when the car is traveling faster than 10MPH and is traveling down a slope that levels out. Another complaint stated that the AEB sensor is pointing straight out parallel to the road. So, when the car reaches the bottom of the slope, it detects it as a possible obstacle and activates the braking mechanism.

An automotive investigation revealed that more than 500,000 units of Nissan Rogue have been equipped with a faulty AEB. Nissan is aware of the issue and has allegedly taken steps to improve the accuracy of the braking system. However, widespread customer complaints continue with regards to the Nissan Rogue.  In fact, to address the AEB System issues, Nissan issued a TSB concerning the “Unexpected Operation of AEB, FEB OR FCW”.  Nissan also introduced a “Customer Service Initiative” to introduce people to an upgraded version of the existing AEB.

What Vehicles Have A Problem with Their AEB System? 

Here is a partial list of vehicles that are known to have problems with the AEB Systems:

  • 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
  • 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid/Sport
  • 2018 Nissan Rogue Hybrid/Sport
  • 2019 Nissan Rogue Hybrid/Sport
  • 2017 Honda CR-V
  • 2018 Honda CR-V

What Actions Have Been Taken to Address AEB System Issues?

NHTSA filed a petition that emphasized on the inefficiency of the automotive brands at handling the issue effectively. According to NHTSA, Nissan should have called for a recall immediately instead of introducing unnecessary initiatives. NHTSA says that it will re-evaluate the case and the petition before opening up a formal investigation.

Also, Nissan Rogues customers have also filed class-action lawsuits alleging the AEB Systems are defective.

What can I Do if My Vehicle’s AEB System Can’t be Fixed?

If your vehicle has been the subject of unrepaired AEB System problems, a strong team of lawyers from CCAs is here to protect you. Over the past few years, our lawyers have developed a strong expertise in litigating cases surrounding complicated vehicle systems, such as the AEB System. We are ready to help you and take on your case at no charge to you at all. If you own any vehicle that has been facing stalling, sudden stops, or difficulty starting, do not hesitate to contact our experts for a free consultation at: (833) LEMON-FIRM.

CCA services consumers throughout the State of California and persons that purchased their vehicles in California, only

Person filing a lemon claim without a car.

No Car. No Problem.

By Brian T. Murray, Esq.

Consumers in California can file a lawsuit under the Lemon Law even if they no longer own the defective vehicle. 

In these volatile economic times, there is a growing pressure to keep up with our monthly expenses despite an uncertain financial future. For most of us, our car payment is one of our largest monthly expenses, second only to our housing costs.  And, for many of us in California, keeping your car is just as essential as keeping a roof over your head. 

If you are one of the thousands of Californians struggling to keep up with your car payments, just know that there is no requirement under the law that a consumer maintain ownership or control of a defective vehicle to claim your benefits under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, better known as California’s Lemon Law. 

This means that if you are forced to sell your car, or your car is repossessed, you can still recover the amount you paid for the vehicle (and still owe for the vehicle) if the vehicle qualifies as a “Lemon.”  

In 2011, in Martinez v. KIA Motors America, Inc. (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 187, the California Court of Appeal addressed the issue of whether a consumer must possess or own a vehicle in order to obtain damages under the Song-Beverly Act.  In July 2002, Juanita Martinez purchased a new 2002 KIA Sedona.  In the first year, Ms. Martinez noticed an odd burning smell. She complained about the smell to the KIA dealership at least 4 times in the first 3 years of ownership, but the dealer did nothing to address the problem. 

In 2005, at 38,162 miles, Ms. Martinez was driving the KIA Sedona when it started shaking and smoking from the engine.  Ms. Martinez smelled a strong acidic odor, which she believed to be battery acid. The vehicle was towed to two different KIA dealerships, both of which denied warranty coverage, blaming the “battery” problems on Ms. Martinez. 

Unable to pay for the repairs out-of-pocket, Ms. Martinez was forced to leave the vehicle at a dealership where it was later repossessed and sold to KIA of Glendale.  KIA of Glendale determined that the car’s alternator had been overcharging and causing damage to electrical components and repaired the vehicle’s alternator under KIA’s written warranty.

In 2011, Ms. Martinez sued KIA for breach of warranty under the Song-Beverly Act.  The Superior Court of Riverside County dismissed Ms. Martinez’s case because she no longer had possession of the vehicle.  Ms. Martinez appealed.

The Court of Appeal held that consumer does not need to possess or own a vehicle to avail himself of the remedies of the Song-Beverly Act.  The court held that to impose such a requirement is contrary to the purpose of the Act which is a remedial statute designed to protect consumers. 

Therefore, based on Martinez, you are not required to hold onto a defective vehicle in order to exercise your rights under the law.   If you need to sell your car because you can’t afford to make payments or if your car is repossessed because you stopped making payments you can still recover the amount you paid for the vehicle and the amount you still owe on the loan if your vehicle qualifies as a “Lemon.” 

If you would like to discuss whether your vehicle, or former vehicle, qualifies as a “Lemon” please contact us today for a free consultation with an expert lemon law attorney: (833) LEMON-FIRM [(833) 536-6634] or www.thelemonfirm.com

Man searching for cars online through private parties.

Private Parties, Online Sales, and the Lemon Law

By: Sepehr Daghighian, Esq.

Today, more and more car buyers and skipping traditional brick-and-mortar car dealerships and, instead, finding their cars online.  For many, purchases from private parties, eBay, auto-brokers, CarMax, Carvana, Craigslist, Car Gurus, and other online resources have replaced the traditional joy of visiting and haggling with one’s local dealership.  However, questions arise as to the availability of lemon law protections when one purchases a vehicle from a private party, from out of state, or from another non-traditional source.

Is There a Warrantable Defect?

The first question in determining if lemon law protection is available is whether or not the vehicle’s defects are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.  In order for the lemon law to apply, the purchaser must be able to demonstrate a warrantable defect. Warranty coverage is most often found either under the original manufacturer’s warranty or through a certified pre-owned (“CPO”) warranty.  In the absence of warranty coverage, lemon law protection is unlikely.  

Which Lemon Law Applies?

Once warranty coverage is determined next step is determining which of the many available lemon laws covers the vehicle’s purchase.  For instance, California’s Song-Beverly Act is limited in covering purchases made in California and from retailers. Thus, purchases from private parties or from out-of-state retailers may not be covered by the Song-Beverly Act.  Meanwhile, the Federal lemon law, the Magnusson-Moss Act, does not feature these same limitations. Therefore, an expert lemon law attorney can oftentimes find coverage, even when a vehicle is purchased from a private party or from out of state.  

What to Do Next?

CCA recommends that you consult with a lemon law attorney to determine if your vehicle’s issues and your purchase are covered by one or more of the applicable lemon laws.  The first step will be to determine if your vehicle’s defects were covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. Next, we must determine which of the applicable lemon laws applies to your purchase.  

Our expert lemon attorneys are available to you for a free consultation to determine if your vehicle qualifies under the lemon law.  Further, because all of our services are paid for by the automakers, you will never receive a bill from us for our work. CCA invites you to contact us today for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-FIRM. 

Lemon Law Arbitration

By: Sepehr Daghighian, Esq.

CCA’s expert lemon law attorneys are often asked, “Should I arbitrate my lemon law claim instead of hiring a lawyer?”  While California’s lemon law arbitration system claims certain advantages to consumers, the system suffers from numerous serious disadvantages, which make it perilous to the unsuspecting and unprepared consumer.  For example, a recent study by the non-profit organization Public Citizen found a stunning bias against consumers in consumer arbitration.  In Public Citizen’s study of 19,000 consumer arbitrations conducted by the National Arbitration Forum, over 94% of the decisions were in favor of the corporation that paid them and against the consumer

Arbitration can be risky for the unprepared and unwary.  Therefore, before initiating your own lemon law claim against a behemoth automaker, we strongly suggest you consult with an expert lemon law attorney: (833) LEMON-FIRM.  

What is Lemon Law Arbitration? 

Arbitration, generally, is a process by which parties submit their dispute for resolution to a neutral third-party, rather than through the court system.  California’s Department of Consumer Affairs offers a certified arbitration program for lemon law claims under the auspices of the Better Business Bureau Auto-Line Program (“BBB”), the Consumer Arbitration Program (“CAP-Motors”), and the California Dispute Settlement Program (“CDSP”).  

Is Lemon Law Arbitration Mandatory?

Consumers that look to their warranty guides or their automakers customer service for assistance with a defective vehicle are often directed to the automaker to one or more of the arbitration programs.  However, arbitration is not mandatory.  The fact that arbitration is strongly recommended by automakers tells you a great deal about whether or not arbitration is in your best interests or in the automakers’ best interests.  

Is Arbitration More Favorable to the Consumer?

While our attorneys have successfully litigated cases in both court and arbitration, like most lemon law attorneys, we typically do not recommend arbitration to our clients for a number of reasons.  The automakers typically push arbitration for consumers by touting that: (1) the consumer won’t need to hire an attorney; (2) arbitration comes at no cost to the consumer, and (3) the arbitration’s results are only binding on the manufacturer.  However, on close examination, each of these supposed benefits appears illusory.  

First, while it is correct that the consumer does not need to hire counsel, there remains the question of whether or not going into litigation against a multi-billion-dollar corporation without a lawyer is a good idea.  But, ask yourself a few questions: Do you think Ford, General Motors, or Toyota will use their bevvy of well-trained and well-paid lawyers against you? Do you have the decades of training and technical know-how that the automakers have?    While one certainly may initiate legal or arbitration proceedings without the benefit of counsel, it is definitely not a good idea.  In all likelihood, you will be severely outmatched by the automaker’s lawyers, who know the law well and know how to skew it in their favor.  

Next, comes the issue of cost.  While it is correct that California’s certified arbitration programs come at no cost to the consumer (because they are paid for by the automakers), in truth, most lemon law plaintiffs do not pay for their lawyers or legal costs either.  CCA’s attorneys, for instance, have litigations hundreds of lemon law cases on behalf of California consumers and never sent their clients a bill. Thus, the automakers second promised benefit of cost-savings is likewise illusory.  

Finally, automakers tout arbitration as beneficial because the results are only binding on the automakers, as if the consumer has nothing to lose by trying their hand at arbitration.  However, in most cases, the outcome of the arbitration is admissible in Court. Therefore, the automakers can use the outcome of the arbitration (which was obtained while the consumer wasn’t represented by counsel and they were) against the consumer later in court proceedings.  The automakers promise that the consumer “has nothing to lose” is, therefore, also false.  

I Have a Lemon… What Should I do?  

If the corporations’ 94% success rate in the study by the non-profit organization Public Citizen is any indication, you should steer clear of lemon law arbitration.  Usually, your best first move is to consult with an expert lemon law attorney.   At CCA, our consultations and all of our services come at no cost to our clients and we will work with you to determine the best course of action.  Therefore, we invite you to call us today for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-FIRM.  

CCA services consumers throughout the State of California and persons that purchased their vehicles in California, only

Man inside a Honda Accord, holding the steering wheel.

Common Honda Accord Problems

By Jim Martinez, PC

The Honda Accord has long been ubiquitous on California roadways. Generally held to be the premier model of one of the automotive industries more reliable manufacturers, the Accord is not without its issues – particularly electrical and engine issues in 2013-2018 models. 

Common issues within the 2013-2018 Honda Accords are related to the starter failing soon after the basic 3-year/36,000 warranty expires. The most widely reported issue with the starter manifest in intermittent “no-starts,” sometimes requiring the driver to repeatedly press the Start Engine button before the vehicle would start – if the vehicle started at all. Accord owners and lessors report a clicking noise or flickering dash lights during these no-start episodes. However, Honda authorized technicians (dealership technicians) are often unable to duplicate the no-start issues due to the defect’s unreliable nature, and as such often do not repair the issue. 

The consumer is charged for a replacement starter and the labor required to install it, costing the consumer close to $1,000 per repair if not covered under warranty or covered by the manufacturer. In other instances, the consumer may be charged for a repair diagnosis, even if the Honda trained technicians are unable to verify the consumer’s concern, in effect being charged over $100.00 and leaving in the same position as before. Still worse, even though Honda Motor America is aware of their starter issues, the problem is often misdiagnosed by dealership technicians or service advisors, who may recommend replacing the vehicle’s battery – again, often at a cost to the consumer if the vehicle is out of warranty.

Other Accord owners and lessees, particularly with the 2018 Honda Accord, have reported that the auto-braking feature engages for no apparent reason while the vehicle is in operation, sometimes for seconds at a time. 2018 Honda Accord owners have also reported excessive pulsation and shuddering in the brakes when applied at highway speeds. At the risk of stating the obvious, both of these issues pose serious safety risks for Accord drivers and their fellow motorists. Accord drivers must rely on other drivers’ quick reaction times in order to avoid collisions that the drivers themselves could not be blamed for.

Still, other issues owners and lessees of 2018 Honda Accords have reported include premature daytime light burnout and headlight failure. Repairing this problem is not as simple as merely changing a lightbulb. Rather, the repair often requires the replacement of the entire headlight unit, at a cost of over $1,000 to the consumer if the defect manifests when the vehicle is out of warranty. Moreover, drivers report subsequent headlight failures of the same headlight unit, or both, again sticking the consumer with high out-of-pocket costs, to say nothing of the inconvenience of presenting the vehicle to a Honda dealership and waiting for your vehicle to be suitable to drive once again. 

While the problems with the Honda Accord’s starter, braking, and headlight issues have since been extensively documented, the general public was unaware of the issues which plagued the vehicles at the time the vehicles were made available for sale – and for a significant period of time thereafter. However, on multiple Honda internet forums, as well as on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, drivers of 2013-2018 Honda Accords lodged extensive complaints, cataloging their frustrations over these common defects. In an attempt to address customers’ widespread dissatisfaction with the starter defect, Honda issued Technical Service Bulletins (“TSB”) instructing Honda authorized technicians on myriad Band-Aid fixes that do not address the primary concern – including mere battery replacement – which in most cases only temporarily alleviate the concerns.  

Fortunately, California Consumer Attorneys can help. Our attorneys and automotive experts are well-versed in all manner of vehicle defects and would love to assist owners/lessees of 2013-2018 Honda Accords. Please call us today to learn about how CCA can assist you – at no charge: (833) LEMON-FIRM. 

Man buffing out the paint defects of a white vehicle.

Paint Problems and the Lemon Law

By: Sepehr Daghighian, Esq.

You’re at a car lot and the sun is glistening off of the gleaming, pristine finish on the new car you’ve had your eye on for months  What could be prettier? Even though it’s pricey, you decide to pull the trigger and purchase your shiny new ride, dreaming of years of happy ownership of the gorgeous vehicle. This is an all too common story.  

However, for many recent car purchasers, they find that hidden beneath the glistening finish of their new ride, there are serious and often incurable paint defects. New car owners are finding, more and more, that their vehicle’s paint begins to prematurely chip, flake, rust, lose its luster, fade, or otherwise fail. Fortunately, for purchasers of vehicles with faulty paint, the California lemon law protects them. If the paint on your new ride has prematurely started to fade, we invite you to call us today for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-LAW.  

What Are New Vehicle Paint Defects?

The shiny paint finish on new vehicles is expected to last for years, if not decades. Indeed, the paint finish is typically covered by the new vehicle warranty. Vehicles also typically include a “rust warranty,” which covers premature failure of the vehicles finish.  

However, increasingly, new vehicle owners are finding that their vehicles shiny new finish prematurely fails. For instance, according to investigations and complaints reviewed by CCA’s attorney’s paint chipping has been found in:

  • 2013-2016 Honda Vehicles, including the Pilot, Accord, Odyssey, and other vehicles have suffered from premature paint chipping;
  • Toyota 2009 – 2018 vehicles with Blizzard Pearl or Super White Paint have recently been recalled for chipping and failures in the vehicle’s paint systems;
  • 2013 – 2017 Nissan vehicles, including the 2013 – 2015 Rogue, have suffered numerous complaints of paint chipping and rusting;
  • 2013 – 2018 Ford Explorers, Mustangs, and Expeditions – were recently the subject of a class-action lawsuit, alleging that the vehicles paint would prematurely bubble.  Edge, Fusion, Escape, and other models have also received widespread complaints regarding paint issues;
  • Mazda Red Soul Crystal Paint – Mazda owners with Red Soul Crystal Paint have experienced extensive chipping on their new vehicles; and
  • 2015-2017 Chrysler Town & Country and Pacifica – owners have experienced extensive paint bubbling and rusting.

If your vehicle’s paint finish is prematurely failing, we recommend that you present it for repair under your new vehicle warranty. Also, we encourage you to contact CCA for a free consultation with an expert lemon law attorney: (833) LEMON-FIRM.  

CCA services consumers throughout the State of California and persons that purchased their vehicles in California, only

An exotic vehicle driving on the highway.

Luxury, High-End, and Exotic Lemons

By Lauren C. Martin, Esq.

Folks paying the price of a small house for a vehicle typically expect to receive a solid and reliable vehicle.  However, in spite of their extravagant prices and respected marques, owners of high-end luxury and exotic vehicles all too often find their vehicles from the same frustrating defects and owners of much less prestigious vehicles.  Fortunately, the seasoned attorneys at CCA are experienced in handling lemon law claims relating to luxury, exotic, and high-end vehicles at no costs to their owners.  

Some of the most respected and expensive vehicle brands have produced their share of lemons.  For example:

ROLLS-ROYCE:

The vaunted British vehicle brand Rolls-Royce is, in fact, owned by BMW AG, the same brand that builds BMW and Mini vehicles.  Unfortunately for Rolls-Royce owners, their vehicles can suffer from many of the same issues as their cheaper cousins. For instance, in May 2019, BMW announced a recall for the seat belts, which affected BMW X1’s, Mini Coopers, and Rolls Royce Ghosts.   Also, in October 2019, BMW announced a recall of its vehicles due to defects in the backup camera. This recall, likewise, crossed vehicle lines and included Rolls Royce Phantoms and Cullinans, as well as many BMW models.

The 2010-2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost was also the subject of two recalls for their auxiliary water pump – both in 2012 and in 2018. According to documents filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), “if the circuit board were to overheat, it can increase the risk of a fire.”  The problem lies in a faulty circuit board, which could cause the circuit board to overheat, and potentially start an engine fire. This recall was submitted in addition to BMW, Rolls-Royce’s manufacturer, recalling certain 2011-2012 BMW 5 series, 6 series, 7 series, X5 series, X6 series and MINI Cooper series, for the same problem. If the concern of a vehicle fire isn’t enough – there are also limited parts available to remedy this concern. In fact, not all parts were available even at the time the recall was issued. Yet, pursuant to BMW’s recall with NHTSA, “BMW recommends that owners park their vehicle outdoors until the recall remedy has been performed.”

PORSCHE:

The Stuttgart-based German automaker Porsche has made immense improvements in the reliability of its vehicles over the past several decades.  While Porsche sports cars of the ’80s and ’90s were known finicky reliability, today Porsche builds much more reliable cars. Nonetheless, as Porsche has widely expanded its vehicle lines, today Porsche owners encounter a wide range of serious and troublesome issues with their vehicles.  

Owners of Porsche’s new vehicle lines, the Cayman, Cayenne, Panamera, and Boxster have encountered a variety of troubling and serious issues with their vehicles.  Porsche owners’ vehicle problems are particularly worrying when the vehicles fall outside of the manufacturer’s warranty and the cost of repair is stratospheric.  

For example, owners of Porsche’s SUV, the Cayenne, have complained of nagging engine, electrical, drivetrain, and other issues.  Porsche Cayenne owners with engine problems have found their vehicles stall on them while being driven, hesitate during acceleration, leak fluids, and exhibit unusual vibrations.  When these issues are not fixed under warranty, customers can face massive repair bills.  

Porsche has also been forced by the government to issue recalls in order to bring its vehicles into conformance with safety standards.  In July of 2019, Porsche announced that it was recalling 99,665 Panamera sedans and Cayenne SUVs because of a cable that links the gear selector to the transmission could fail, allowing the transmission to be in a different gear than what the shifter indicates, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  This danger, according to NHTSA, raises the chances the vehicle could roll away. 

MERCEDES-BENZ AMG:

Mercedes-Benz’s prestigious AMG line of vehicles has also been the subject of numerous defects, recalls, and complaints.  CCA’s attorneys have handled a wide range of cases involved AMG vehicles including engine problems, transmission problems, electrical issues, and even vehicle fires.  For instance, Mercedes-Best G550 owners have suffered through a frustrating series of transmission issues, resulting in harsh shifts and strange noises emanating from the vehicle’s transmission.  

Mercedes-Benz has also been forced to issues numerous recalls, in order to address issues with its AMG vehicles.  For instance, in August of 2017, Mercedes-Benz announced a recall of its 2016-2017 AMG GLE43 Coupe and 2017 AMG GLE43 vehicles because of a defect wherein their engines would shut down while driving.  Mercedes recalled these vehicles in 2016 to update the engine control unit software because of unintended engine shutdowns. However, customers who had the updates kept complaining about their engines shutting down, so the automaker opened an investigation. 

In January of 2018, the automaker announced a recall of its AMG GT, AMG GT R, AMG GT C and AMG GT S cars to fix problems with the seat belts.  In July 2019, more recalls were issued for the AMG GT s vehicles, because of issues with the vehicle’s driveshafts.  

LAMBORGHINI:

Lamborghini builds some of the quickest and most exciting vehicles in the world. However, the Italian automakers beautiful sports cars are not without their issues. For instance, in 2019, Lamborghini announced the recall of certain 2017-19 Aventador S Coupè and Aventador S Roadster vehicles. Lamborghini’s announced that the defect involved the engine management software used for both vehicles, which, due to a defect, may cause the engine to stall while coasting toward a stop. 

Numerous models of the Lamborghini Aventador were the subject of multiple recalls, those which could increase the risk of fire or the risk of a crash. For instance, in 2017, Automobili Lamborghini recalled certain 2012-2017 Aventador Coupe and Roadsters due to a fire risk related to the evaporative emissions control system. The 2012-2017 Aventador Coupe and Roadster vehicles, under certain conditions while driving with a full tank of gasoline, the gasoline could contact the exhaust system and cause a fire. 

FERRARI:

Ferrari, the iconic sports car brand from Maranello, Italy, like all other automakers has also suffered through a series of recalls and defects.  For instance, in February of 2019, Ferrari announced two safety recalls for its vehicles. The first recall (number 67) affects certain 2017-2019 GTC4Lusso and 2018-2019 GTC4Lusso T vehicles. According to the NHTSA document, Ferrari is recalling these cars due to defective doors. The “tension on the door lock mechanism may result in the vehicle’s door being unable to be opened by using the external door handle.”  The second recall (number 69) affects a wider range of Ferrari vehicles. According to NHTSA, the fuel vapor separator of certain 2017 LaFerrari Aperta, 2018-2019 488 GTB, GTC4Lusso T, GTC4Lusso, 488 Spider, 812 Superfast, and 2019 488 Pista vehicles could potentially crack which could lead to a fuel leak that may increase the risk of fire in these vehicles.

Also, it was reported in December of 2018 that a jury in Arkansas awarded a $5.8-million judgment against a dealership for fraud, in connection with the purchase of a $90,000 Ferrari F430, which was purchased in 2016.  According to court documents, shortly after purchase, the plaintiff began smelling gas and later discovered undisclosed issues, such as a leaky fuel pump, suspension problems, and a cracked exhaust manifold. The jury found that the dealership had committed fraud because it had advance notice of the issues prior to selling the vehicle and failed to disclose them.  Although the Arkansas case involved a dealership and not the manufacturer, the jury’s verdict demonstrates that exotic and luxury vehicles can be the subject of lemon law litigation, too.  

MCLAREN:

McLaren is known for building some of the best performing and best-looking vehicles on the road. The gorgeous vehicles from Surrey, England combine blistering performance with eye-popping looks. However, in spite of their six-figure price tag, McLaren vehicles have not been without their issues. In fact, McLaren owners have complained extensively about reliability issues plaguing their vehicles. Also, the elite brand’s vehicles have suffered a series of vehicle fires, which result in the destruction of the vehicle as a whole.  

BENTLEY:

Bentley motorcars are synonymous with luxury and prestige. The aspirational car brand was founded by W.O. Bentley in 1919 and has since produced some of the world’s most desirable vehicles. Today, however, Bentley is a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group and has developed a reputation for building vehicles that suffer an abnormally high number of defects.  

In fact, according to an article in England’s Telegraph newspaper, Bentley came in dead last in terms of reliability among 37 separate automakers. Notably, according to The Telegraph, the repairs on Bentley vehicles were some of the most expensive of any carmaker.  

RESOLVING LEMON LAW CLAIMS:

If your high-end vehicle has since turned into a high-end headache, you need serious legal representation on your side. The lemon law attorneys at CCA are experts in handling lemon law complaints against manufacturers of high-end, luxury, and exotic vehicles. Our exceptional legal services are second to none and come at no cost to you – all of your legal bills will be paid by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If your vehicle has not lived up to your expectations, has been parked due to recalls, or has scared you out of driving it, we invite you to call CCA for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-FIRM.

CCA services consumers throughout the State of California and persons that purchased their vehicles in California, only

Mechanic acting as an expert witness in a lemon law case.

Expert Witnesses in Lemon Law Litigation

By: Sepehr Daghighian, Esq.

The seasoned trial attorneys at CCA regularly utilize outside expert witnesses in lemon law litigation in order to help understand, analyze, and bolster their client’s cases.  Lemon law cases oftentimes involve complicated technical issues and disputed facts. Thus, automotive technical experts provide critical insights, which allow our attorneys to deliver superlative results for our clients.

The use of lemon law expert witnesses is allowed both under California Evidence Code Section 720, and Federal Rule of Evidence 702.  In the context of the California Evidence Code, in order to qualify as an expert witness, the expert must demonstrate that “he has special knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education sufficient to qualify him as an expert on the subject to which his testimony relates.”  In the Federal context, similarly, Rule 702 requires expert witnesses to demonstrate that their “scientific, technical or otherwise specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact understand the evidence, or to determine a fact in issue.” The automotive expert witnesses used by CCA’s attorneys assist by conducting vehicle inspections, performing scientific analyses, reviewing and opining on repair orders and repair procedures, and providing highly skilled technical testimony to juries to help deliver trial victories for our clients.  

The automotive experts we use are some of the most qualified in the industry.  Oftentimes, lemon law litigants are faced with expert testimony by manufacturers in house personnel, which needs to be countermanded at trial.  Therefore, CCA’s attorneys utilize master automotive technicians with decades of experience, who are often ASE certified, and who are exceptionally well-versed in all aspects of automotive technology.  Lemon law litigation involves complicated defects, new technologies, and lengthy repair histories. Technical experts help analyze these issues by conducting vehicle inspections, reviewing records, and researching the defects experienced by our clients in light of widespread problems with similar vehicles.  CCA’s automotive experts assist our attorneys in understanding these matters and, when necessary, help to explain them to the jury.  

Also, lemon law cases often turn on whether or not authorized dealerships properly performed repair procedures.  Technical experts help to analyze the repair orders and the dealership procedures to determine whether or not the dealership’s work was up to snuff.  Lemon law automotive experts furthermore conduct scientific analysis in order to help understand the issues at hand. For instance, our experts often analyze fluid samples from engines and transmissions in order to understand the vehicle system’s malfunctions.  These chemical fluid analyses serve as a “blood test” to understand scientifically the underlying cause of vehicle defects. Such tests can prove conclusively that a vehicle system is defective, in spite of a manufacturers claims that there is nothing wrong with our client’s vehicle.  

Effective automotive experts can mean the difference between winning and losing at trial in lemon law cases.  CCA’s attorneys have litigated numerous cases wherein juries relied heavily on testimony by technical experts.  For instance, in litigation concerning FCA’s flawed Totally Integrated Power Module (“TIPM”), our attorneys have utilized experts to analyze and explain the TIPM system’s failures in light of the history of defects evidenced by FCA’s internal documents.  Furthermore, technical experts have been critical in undermining defense theories regarding TIPM malfunctions and explaining why FCA’s repair protocols were insufficient to properly address the TIPM’s many issues. 

Lemon law litigation oftentimes involves subtle issues such as intermittent problems, hesitations or jerking during acceleration, or violent transmission shifts.  In such cases, lemon law expert witness testimony is critical in providing third party neutral analysis of the vehicle’s performance.  

Automotive experts are also used to overcome the smoke and mirrors presented by the defendants in lemon law trials.  For example, in a recent “unintended acceleration” case tried by CCA’s attorneys in Riverside, California, the defendant insisted (through an in-house engineer) that there was no defect with the vehicle and that there was no unintended acceleration.  Our client’s expert witness, however, drew on his decades of experience and an over 1,000-mile test of the subject vehicle to determine conclusively that the vehicle possessed a defect and that the defendant’s theory of the case was not tenable. Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict in our client’s favor.  In these and countless other cases, the automotive experts utilized in lemon law matters serve as a critical piece of the puzzle in achieving a successful outcome for our clients.  

Lemon law litigation oftentimes involves technical, sophisticated, and nuanced issues. CCA’s attorneys rely on the industry’s foremost experts to provide a technical and scientific foundation for our client’s lemon law claims.  If you have a lemon law case that requires a high degree of technical expertise, we invite you to contact our firm for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-FIRM.

CCA services consumers throughout the State of California and persons that purchased their vehicles in California, only

Someone driving a car in the rain, experiencing water leaks.

Lemon Law and Vehicle Water Leaks

By Sepehr Daghighian

In sunny California, we don’t spend too much time worrying about the rain.  However, come wintertime, vehicle owners often encounter an unpleasant, smelly, inconvenient, and even dangerous phenomenon: vehicle water leaks.  CCA’s clients often enjoy months of trouble-free driving only to encounter vehicle problems arising from water intrusion during the first rains of the season.  For instance, rain and moisture can enter the vehicle’s cabin through the roof panel or sunroom, enter the doors and tailgate through leaks in the weather-stripping, and soak the floorboards and carpeting by entering the vehicle’s cab through various openings.  

Fortunately, most sources of vehicle water leaks are covered by vehicles’ “basic” or “bumper-to-bumper” warranties.  If your vehicle’s manufacturer is unable to cure these leaks after a reasonable number of attempts, your vehicle may qualify as for repurchase or replacement as a lemon under California law.  

Vehicle warranty leaks are not only stinky and inconvenient, but they can also pose a safety risk.  For instance, in April of 2019, Acura announced that it was recalling 323,000 of its 2014-2019 MDX sports utility vehicles because water intrusions in the rear liftgate could lead to damage to electrical components, including the taillights and brake lights.   

Owners of 2012 – 2018 Jeep Patriot and Compass SUVs have also complained extensively of severe roof leaks into the interior of their vehicles.  For instance, Jeep Owners have complained that their “roof leaks when there is a heavy rainstorm. Car now reeks like spoiled milk. Water leaks out of the glove compartment sometimes too.”  Oftentimes, in spite of taking their vehicles to the dealership for warranty service, Jeep is unable to correct the leaks. Like Acura’s water leaks, these roof leaks can also lead to electrical shorts because the water oftentimes intrudes into the vehicle’s dome lights.  

In October of 2017, Ford Motor Company issued a recall on 73,400 of its 2015-2017 Transit Vans, which it found could be harmed by water intrusion.  According to Ford, symptoms of a problem include turn signals that flash too quickly, a loss of the instrument cluster display, losing the heater and air conditioning controls and losing the radios, screens and all multimedia functions.  Ominously, Ford warned that the water intrusion could also lead to vehicle fires. Later in May of 2018, Ford expanded this recall to include additional Transit-150, Transit-250, Transit-350, and Transit-350 HD vehicles.  

The expert attorneys at CCA have handled numerous lemon law matters on behalf of clients that experienced annoying, inconvenient, and dangerous water intrusions in their vehicles.  If your vehicle’s manufacturer has been unable to repair leaks in your vehicle covered by warranty, we invite you to give us a call today for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-FIRM.  

CCA services consumers throughout the State of California and persons that purchased their vehicles in California, only