Wisconsin -- A judge has ordered Mercedes-Benz USA LLC to pay $482,000 in damages and legal fees to a Wisconsin customer who was sold a defective car and not given a refund on time. It is believed this Wisconsin lemon law case is awarded the largest in damages and legal fees involving a single car, as against any state lemon law. State lemon law protects consumers who are sold junk cars. This Wisconsin lemon law dispute is over the 2005 Mercedes-Benz E 320 that has dragged on for more than four years.
Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, a unit of the German car maker Daimler AG was ordered to pay $482,000 in damages and legal fees to a Wisconsin customer, Marco Marquez, a 37-year-old businessman from Waukesha. A Milwaukee dealership in 2005 sold Marco Marquez a defective E 320 car for $56,000 and refused to give him a refund on time.
Different states in the US have different lemon laws and Wisconsin’s lemon law is one of the strongest.
Wisconsin’s lemon law allows
• Customers who unwittingly buy lemon cars that don’t run or can’t be repaired
• Them to demand a replacement or a refund
• 30 days to the manufacturers to respond
• An order to pay double the purchase price plus legal fees for violating the law
The Wisconsin lemon law case that has culminated in an order by the judge to pay $482,000 in damages and legal fees to the Wisconsin customer Marco Marquez is one of the largest judgments for a car and is an important victory of the lemon law rights of the consumer.
The consumer purchased the E 320 for $56,000 from a Milwaukee dealership in 2005 and immediately afterwards
• The car was showing trouble starting
• Its battery needed to replace many a time but to no use
• The problem continued despite repeated visits to the dealership for repairs
• After several repair attempts the dealership admitted that the problem could not be fixed
The auto industry should learn to respect the lemon law rights of a consumer
The consumer, in order to protect his lemon law rights sent the company a refund demand in October 2005 through his lemon law attorney. After a few weeks, the response came with an offer of a replacement instead. The consumer stood his ground for a refund. The company finally agreed to the refund, but failed to provide one within 30 days as stipulated by the Wisconsin lemon law. On the 31st day after receiving refund demand, the consumer’s Wisconsin lemon law attorney filed the lawsuit seeking double damages and attorneys’ fees.
The Mercedes-Benz USA LLC was deliberately stalling payment
The Mercedes-Benz USA LLC had accused the consumer for years, of acting in bad faith but at the end had to relent and acknowledge the fact that the car was defective. The Mercedes-Benz USA LLC was desperately looking for ways and means to get off the hook by accusing the consumer of not providing information about his auto loan on the 30th day. They blamed it on the lack of the said information which they claimed the main bottleneck in granting the refund the consumer demanded according to the Wisconsin lemon law. The consumer’s Wisconsin lemon law attorney said Mercedes-Benz USA LLC did have all the information it needed for the refund but deliberately opted to stall the payment.
Wisconsin lemon law rights of consumer
A judge ruled in favor of the Wisconsin lemon lawrights of consumer, in 2007. The judge awarded $202,000 in damages and legal fees. An appeals court in 2008 ruled against that decision and ordered additional proceeding. The appeals court said a jury should decide the role of Marco Marquez in not cooperating with the company for giving the refund on time.
Lack of Urgency by Mercedes-Benz
The jury sided with the company. The jury agreed that Marco Marquez acted in bad faith. But in a rare move, Waukesha County Circuit Judge ruled against this verdict saying it was not backed up by the evidence that Marco Marquez acted in bad faith. He ruled in Marco Marquez’s favor. The judge cited a clear lack of urgency by Mercedes-Benz to refund money to Marco Marquez.
The final award
A series of rulings by Waukesha County Circuit Judge have calculated the damages for the consumer Marco Marquez at roughly $168,000 which is double the purchase price plus interest, plus $314,000 in costs and legal fees for his Wisconsin lemon law attorney and other lawyers.