South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Requirements of Lemon Law Must Be Followed by Consumer for Law to Be Effective
Description Appeals court held that even though a consumer had a defective vehicle that may be due for replacement or refund under the state’s Lemon Law, because the consumer failed to follow the requirements of the statute, she could not sue the automaker under that statute.
Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words Lemon Law; Requirements
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts In 2001, Garcia bought a new Mazda. The car had transmission problems and was repaired three times in the next five months. The following month, when she was on a trip the same problem occurred, and she had to leave the car in another state for repair. She sent Mazda a letter, contending that under the Wisconsin Lemon Law she was entitled to either a comparable new vehicle or a refund. The vehicle was returned to her in Wisconsin, but the same problem occurred again. Mazda offered her an extended warranty. She refused, saying she expected a replacement vehicle. Mazda then offered a new vehicle, which she ordered. Before it was delivered, further disputes occurred and she sued Mazda and the dealer. The trial court dismissed Garcia’s suit; she appealed.

Affirmed. Mazda did not violate the Lemon Law because the procedure under that law was not followed by Garcia. Under the law, the manufacturer is obligated to provide a comparable new vehicle or refund the purchase price, at the discretion of the consumer, within 30 days of when the consumer offers to transfer title of the defective vehicle to the manufacturer. Garcia did not offer to transfer the title to her car, so the 30-day period never began to run. The requirements of the law are very clear and must be followed by both parties.

Citation Garcia v. Mazda Motor of America, --- N.W.2d --- (2003 WL 22207874, Ct. App., Wisc., 2003)

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