Wins

Court of Appeal’s published opinion holds that California lemon law protects used car buyers with active new-car warranties

GMSR’s clients discovered that their used vehicle was defective, but the manufacturer refused to repair or replace it.  They sued the manufacturer under California’s lemon law, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, which requires manufacturers to either replace defective cars or offer the consumer a refund.  The trial court sustained the manufacturer’s demurrer, following a recent opinion, Rodriguez v. FCA US, LLC (2022) 77 Cal.App.5th 209.

The Court of Appeal’s published opinion reversed the judgment and disagreed with Rodriguez.  Agreeing with both GMSR and a more long-standing Court of Appeal opinion, Jensen v. BMW of North America, Inc. (1995) 35 Cal.App.4th 112, the Court of Appeal held that the Act’s repair-or-replace remedy applies to vehicles purchased used if the manufacturer’s original warranty still hasn’t expired.  Therefore, a consumer who purchases a previously-owned vehicle with an unexpired warranty can still invoke lemon law protections to enforce that warranty.  The Court of Appeal reasoned that the statute’s plain language compels that result, and emphasized that in the nearly 30 years since Jensen was decided, the Legislature could have amended the law, but did not.

This opinion is the first to address the split between Rodriguez and Jensen.  Although Rodriguez held that the lemon law’s refund-or-replace remedy does not apply to used vehicles, the California Supreme Court has granted review.  GMSR also represents the petitioner in Rodriguez.

To read the Court of Appeal Opinion, click here:  Stiles v. Kia Motors America, Inc. (2024) __ Cal.App.5th __ [Second District, Division Six].