The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act commonly known as California’s Lemon Law

Established in 1970, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, commonly referred to as “California’s Lemon Law,” was the law put into effect by the California legislature designed to assist California consumers facing warranty issues with their recently purchased defective products.  Among other things, one of the most important provisions of the Act was that it mandated that consumer good manufacturers are required to repurchase or replace products under certain conditions.  While generally thought of as applying to automobiles, California’s Lemon Law is designed to address most any type of consumer good purchased with a warranty.  In addition to automobiles, this includes motorcycles, recreational vehicles, motor homes, boats, electronics, and more.

By and large, California’s Lemon Law is most often used by consumers with respect to defective automobiles.  With respect to a vehicle, Song-Beverly mandates that if there is a substantial defect to which the manufacturer has been unable to repair within a reasonable number of attempts, then the automobile manufacturer must repurchase the vehicle.  For the purposes of the Lemon Law, a “new motor vehicle” is not defined as the term is used in everyday conversation, but a “new motor vehicle” includes vehicles still under the manufacturer’s original warranty.  Thus, certified pre-owned vehicles or vehicles for which the original warranty is still in effect, while not “new” in everyday conversational terms, may nevertheless be “new motor vehicles” for the purposes of California’s Lemon Law.

Whether a particular defect is “substantial” and whether the consumer has provided a sufficient “number of repair opportunities” for the manufacturer to repair the vehicle are matters that are case specific.  However, there is a section within California’s Lemon Law known as the Tanner Consumer Protection Act which established that if, within 18 months or 18,000 miles on the odometer, whichever occurs first, (1) there exists a defect that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury and has been presented at least two times for repairs, (2) the dealer has tried to repair the same defect four times, or (3) the vehicle has been out of service for repairs for a cumulative total of more than 30 days, it will be legally presumed that a “reasonable number of repair opportunities” has occurred.

But even without this legal presumption, a vehicle may still qualify if an argument can be made that the vehicle was purchased as a “new motor vehicle” has had a “substantial defect” and under the circumstances a “reasonable number of repair opportunities” exist.

How the Law Offices of Michael Devlin May Be Able to Help You (And do so at No Cost to You)

The attorneys affiliated with the Law Offices of Michael Devlin are litigators with vast levels of experience handling cases under the Song-Beverly Act.  The Offices handle California Lemon Law disputes throughout the state of California.

Whether the facts of your case would allow your vehicle or consumer good to qualify under California’s Lemon Law is something to which the Law Offices of Michael Devlin may be able to assist.  Even if you purchased your vehicle used, the attorneys may be able to demonstrate that such vehicle was still considered a “new motor vehicle” under the definition within the Lemon Law.  Even if your vehicle presented problems outside of the 18 month/18,000 mile presumption period, the Law Offices of Michael Devlin may still be able to help you in demonstrating how the problem was “substantial” and a “reasonable number of opportunities” under the circumstances of your case would allow it to qualify for a repurchase.

As one manufacturer representative stated in testimony under the penalty of perjury in a past matter, “we [manufacturers] are not in the business of buying cars back.”  In short, even though the law mandates that manufacturers must repurchase certain defective vehicles, oftentimes the automobile manufacturers will fight the claims aggressively simply because they don’t want to repurchase the vehicle regardless of the fact that the law states they must.  Unfortunately, an individual consumer will oftentimes face severe stonewalling and obstruction to their repurchase efforts.  In such a “David versus Goliath” situation, where an individual consumer does not have the same resources of multi-national billion dollar corporations, an experienced attorney is a must in such a fight.

Because of this “David versus Goliath” situation, the California legislature drafted the Lemon Law with what is called a one-way fee shifting provision.  So as to level the playing field, a consumer is entitled to have his or her attorneys’ fees and costs paid for by the manufacturer if/when the defective good is repurchased.  Because of this, consumers who contact the Office can rest easy knowing that the attorneys working at the Law Offices of Michael Devlin will work hard on their behalf at no cost to them.

If you believe you may have a valid California Lemon Law claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.  The Law Offices of Michael Devlin are happy to discuss your case to see if your matter is one to which we can assist.