I’ve sued virtually every major manufacturer of motor vehicles, motor homes and semi trucks doing business in America. I’ve sued many motorcycle manufactures and brought claims for defective wheel chairs under Wisconsin’s wheel chair lemon law. I’ve filed claims against General Motors 500 times without a loss, and have had the largest lemon law verdicts and settlements in the U.S. with 28 Court of Appeal and Supreme Court published opinions.
In addition, I have been extremely successful filing Federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act and State Fraudulent Representation claims against many automobile dealerships.
Milestone Appellate and Supreme Court Wins
Church v. Chrysler (Court of Appeal 1998)
Established that an auto manufacturer in a lemon law case must provide the consumer with a refund or comparable new vehicle, (whichever the consumer asks for) within 30 days of receiving the consumer’s demand for relief. This 30 day requirement is strictly construed. If the remedy is not given by the end of the 30th day, it is too late. The lemon law is then violated, entitling the consumer to double damages and attorney fees.
Dieter v. Chrysler (Supreme Court 2000)
Established that a purchaser can be aware of defects in a car before purchase and still be entitled to lemon law relief if the manufacturer/dealer doesn’t repair the problem within the lemon law time requirements.
Kiss v. General Motors (Court of Appeal 2001)
Court holds that transferring a used tow package to a new chassis does not fulfill the manufacturer’s obligation to provide a comparable new vehicle. While this case involved a tow truck, the holding applies to all vehicles – under the lemon law you get a new car, period, and everything has to be new, meaning you can’t transfer tires, or rims, or speaker systems, or anything.
Garcia v. Mazda Motors (Supreme Court 2004)
Ms. Garcia had a Mazda with transmission problems. The dealer couldn’t get the car to shift into gear properly so they told Garcia to jiggle a screw driver in the council to get the gear shifter move. She followed their instructions but the transmission still wouldn’t go into gear. Garcia sent out her own lemon law demand letter. She did not state in her letter that she “offered to transfer title” to Mazda in exchange for a new vehicle. The Trial Court said the lemon law letter was defective and dismissed her case. The Court of Appeal affirmed. We then petitioned the Supreme Court, and the lower court decisions were overturned. Garcia wins! The Supreme Court says consumers don’t have to use “magic words” in their demand letters. They don’t walk around carrying statute books under their arms. Everybody knew what Ms. Garcia was asking for. And it is implied that she would have returned the lemon if Mazda would have given her a new car.
Kaskin v. John Lynch Chevrolet (Court of Appeal 2009)
Mr. Kaskin’s new Chevy truck had 5,000 miles and engine problems. He took it into the dealer – John Lynch Chevrolet – for repair. Both assumed the repairs would be covered under GM’s warranty. However, Lynch found out that GM would not cover the repairs, but did not tell Mr. Kaskin. Instead, Lynch went ahead and did the repair work anyway and then called Mr. Kaskin saying, we have “good news and bad news. The truck runs great, but you owe us $5,000. The repairs weren’t covered under warranty.”
Wisconsin law clearly states that a repair shop must give an estimate for repairs and get customer authorization to pay for repairs, prior to doing the repairs. Lynch violated Wisconsin law. Nevertheless, Lynch told Kaskin if he didn’t pay, Lynch would keep his truck. Mr. Kaskin paid under protest in order to get his truck back. We filed suit for an unauthorized repair violation and ended up at the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals decision makes it crystal clear that repair shops cannot do what they did to my client. They must get prior authorization for any repairs, even a $200 brake job, before doing the repair. If they don’t get prior authorization, the customer doesn’t have to pay. If the customer does pay, the customer can then recover double what he paid plus attorney fees.
The court awarded my firm $156,000 in attorney fees. Lynch paid those fees and two years later John Lynch and his son went to Representative Robin Voss to complain about Vince Megna.
Representative Voss introduced legislation capping attorney fees in consumer matters to three times the amount awarded. This legislation passed the Senate and the Assembly and was signed into law on December 8, 2011 by Governor Scott Walker. The result was the destruction of 200 consumer protection laws in Wisconsin. Neither the Senate, Representative Voss, the Assembly, nor Governor Scott Walker had the slightest idea of how many laws that they destroyed with the passage of this single piece of legislation.
Kilian v. Mercedes Benz (Supreme Court 2011)
Mr. Kilian sent out a lemon law demand notice to Mercedes Benz USA seeking a refund of his lease payments because of electrical problems with his Mercedes SL. Within 30 days of receiving the demand, Mercedes Benz USA refunded Mr. Kilian his lease payments and took the car back. Case over? No.
Mercedes Benz Financial kept trying to collect lease payments that were not due from Mr. Kilian. Over a two month period they repeatedly called Mr. Killian and his family, sent collection letters advising he was delinquent, and even sent a Federal legal notice advising that Mercedes Benz Financial was contacting the credit bureau.
I wrote three times to Financial trying to get it to stop the letters and phone calls. They did not. Consequently we filed suit. This case went on for six years: motions at the Trial Court, two appeals to the Court of Appeals, and eventually a Petition to the Supreme Court.
The issue at the Supreme Court was whether Kilian could sue a lessor, Mercedes Benz Financial, under the lemon law. Up until this time only manufactures under the lemon law had been sued. But there is a provision in the lemon law stating that once a leased vehicle is returned under the lemon law, “no person may enforce the lease.”
It always seemed clear to me that Mr. Kilian could sue Financial because they were attempting to enforce his lease after the car had been returned. However, Financial didn’t agree, the Trial Court didn’t agree and the Court of Appeals didn’t agree. Finally, the Supreme Court agreed and overturned all the other decisions. We were right.
Marquez v. Mercedes Benz (Supreme Court 2012)
The Marquez case has gone on for over seven years. It is the longest lemon law case on record. It has resulted in a $618,000 judgment against Mercedes Benz. This sum was finally paid in September 2012 after filing garnishment actions against all Wisconsin Mercedes Benz dealers. The case remains ongoing as we work to resolve other issues.