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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. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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