Calif. Class Action Lawsuit Accuses Ford of ‘Lemon Law’ Violations
By Courtney Coren
A California man filed a class action lawsuit against Ford Motor Company for allegedly violating its agreement to repurchase or replace defective vehicles from consumers by adding deductions to the buyback price allegedly in violation of California’s “lemon law.”
According to the class action lawsuit, Rex Potter purchased a brand new 2011 Ford F-150 from Lake Elsinore Ford in Lake Elsinore, Calif. on May 30, 2011 for about $62,000. Potter added a third party extended service contract to his purchase for $1,615, as well. At the time of purchase, Ford included an express warranty “under which Ford agreed to preserve or maintain the utility or performance of the vehicle or provide compensation if there is any failure in utility or performance for a specified period of time.”
Potter allegedly began having transmission problems within weeks of purchasing the vehicle. “At least two different authorized Ford dealers confirmed the existence of transmission problems and conducted various transmission repairs during the express warranty period,” Potter’s class action lawsuit states.
Potter, with the help of his attorney, sent a letter to Ford requesting the car company to repurchase the vehicle due to the transmission problems he was continuing to have, according to Ford’s obligations under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. Ford did agree to repurchase the vehicle, but its offer came with “certain qualifications and deductions.”
First, the truck had a cracked windshield, and Ford said it would subtract the cost to repair it from the repurchase price as part of “abnormal wear or collision damage.” Second, Ford’s buyback price did not include the registration fees as is required under the Song-Beverly Act. Third, it did not include the “non Ford” extended service contract that Potter purchased for $1,615. Finally, the buyback amount proposed by Ford did not include the thousands of dollars that Potter spent to insure the truck, which Potter alleges is required under the Song-Beverly Act.
“Ford’s proposed repurchase offer communicated to Mr. Potter falls several thousand dollars below what Ford is required to offer Plaintiff under the Song-Beverly Act,” the class action lawsuit states.
Potter claims that Ford has violated California’s Song-Beverly Act, which says that car companies are required to either repurchase or replace a vehicle that it isn’t able to repair according to their express warranties provided that consumers have made “a reasonable number of attempts” to have the defect repaired.
Under the Song-Beverly Act, automakers are allowed one deduction based on the mileage put on the vehicle until the customer files the first complaint. Ford’s deductions go “beyond the predelivery mileage offset, including deductions for abnormal wear or collision damage.”
In his class action lawsuit, Potter alleges that Ford has been including deductions that he claims are not allowed under the law, such as the broken glass and other damages. The automaker is also allegedly violating the California law by not including costs incurred by the consumer that the automaker is required to include in its final calculation such as sales tax, license fees, registration fees and other incidental damages, such as the cost of a tow truck when the vehicle broke down and of a rental car.
Potter filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and all California consumers who purchased a vehicle from Ford in the last four years and faced repurchase or replacement offers with deductions in violation of the Song-Beverly Act and California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
The plaintiff is represented by Payam Shahian and Karen Nakon of Strategic Legal Practices APC and by Dara Tabesh of EcoTech Law Group PC.
The Ford Buyback Class Action Lawsuit is Potter v. Ford Motor Co., Case No. 1:13-cv-05095, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
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