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COA rules on first impression lemon-law issue

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The Indiana Court of Appeals tackled today an issue of first impression regarding the state's lemon law: Once a consumer has met the law's repair threshold, he can still file an action under the lemon law even if a subsequent repair fixes the problem.
 
In Metro Health Professionals, Inc. v. Chrysler, LLC, No. 06A04-0809-CV-547, Metro Health Professionals purchased a Jeep from a Chrysler dealer in October 2006. MHP took the vehicle in for service at a repair facility authorized by Chrysler to address issues with all the warning lights in the dash coming on, gauges that quit working, headlights shutting on and off spontaneously, and the transmission shifting into low gear spontaneously. Each time it was brought in, Chrysler claimed there wasn't a problem. Finally, after the fifth time MHP brought the car in for service, the repair facility replaced the front control module and the problems haven't occurred since.
 
In October 2007, MHP filed its claim under Indiana Code Sections 24-5-13-1 to -24, the Motor Vehicle Protection Act. The trial court denied MHP's motion for summary judgment. It granted Chrysler's motion for summary judgment finding the facts show the "nonconformity," or vehicle defects, hadn't occurred since the front control module was repaired and MHP was without remedy under the act.

Indiana's MVPA, or lemon law, says if after at least four attempts by the manufacture to repair the nonconformity, and the defects still exist, a consumer can bring a suit as long as the action has been brought within two years of the date the buyer first reports the defect.

At issue is whether MHP could file a claim because the nonconformity was repaired after the fifth attempt. MHP argued that because the defects weren't fixed after the fourth attempt, it could file the claim under the lemon law.

The Court of Appeals found DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Spitzer, 860 N.E.2d 705 (N.Y. 2006), to be persuasive and applied its ruling in the instant case.

"We hold that the plain language of Ind. Code Section 24-5-13-15(a)(1) obligates a consumer to demonstrate that the vehicle was subject to repair at least four times and that the same defective condition remained unresolved after the fourth attempt," wrote Judge Elaine Brown. "Therefore, once a consumer has met the four-repair threshold and the defect remains unresolved, the requirements of Ind. Code Section 24-5-13-15(a)(1) have been met."

The designated evidence in the instant case shows MHP took the Jeep for repairs on five occasions and was returned twice to MHP without making any repairs and twice after running a scan or diagnostic test. The Court of Appeals didn't agree with Chrysler's argument the Jeep wasn't "subject to repair" four times because it didn't make repairs the first four times it was brought in for service.

"Chrysler may not avoid liability under the Lemon Law by simply doing nothing when faced with a customer's complaints," wrote the judge.

Because it couldn't fix the problems after four times, Chrysler was obligated to refund MHP's money or provide a replacement car of comparable value. The trial court erred in granting summary judgment to Chrysler.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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