CALIFORNIA LEMON LAW ALERT- Appellate Court Reverses Kia Motors

In a recent decision the California Appellate Court overturned a Motion for Summary Judgment that was granted in favor of auto manufacturer Kia Motors. The clients in this matter purchased a new Kia Sedona, and while under warranty took the SUV in for repairs. Kia stated the clients had to pay to have the vehicle repaired. The clients did not have the monies, so simply left the car at the dealership until it was eventually repossessed.

These consumers filed suit against Kia Motors for breach of express and implied warranties under the California Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, more commonly known as California’s Lemon Law. Kia responded to this matter by filing a motion for summary judgment, stating that these consumers could not sue under this statute as they were no longer in possession of the vehicle, and therefore could not have the vehicle repurchased or replaced.

The trial court agreed with the manufacturer, forcing these consumers to appeal. Luckily the Appellate Court is smarter and better equipped to handle these matters, and reversed the decision, holding that the Song-Beverly Act does NOT require that the consumer maintain possession of the vehicle in order to seek restitution or replacement.

“….nowhere does the Act provide that the consumer must own or possess the vehicle at all   times in order to avail himself or herself of the remedies. All the Act requires of the buyer is that the buyer “deliver [the] nonconforming goods to the manufacturer’s service and repair facility” for the purpose of allowing the manufacturer a reasonable number of attempts to cure the problem.  (Citations omitted)” Id. at 7.

Further, the appellate court held that the principles of rescission and revocation of acceptance under the Uniform Commercial Code are NOT applicable;

“Under common law and the Uniform Commercial Code, a party seeking to rescind a contract must generally return any consideration received.  Pursuant to Civil Code section 1691, subdivision (b), a rescinding party must “[r]estore….everything of value which he received … under the contract….” Under the Uniform Commercial Code section 2604 and 2608, where a buyer revokes acceptance of the goods, “the buyer may store the rejected goods for the seller’s account or reship them to him or sell them for the seller’s account….” (Citation)”. Defendant argues that these principles also apply to the restitution remedy under the Act. We disagree.” Id. at 13

Following Jiagbogu vs. Merceds-Benz USA (2004) 118 Cal. App. 4th 1235, the appellate court holds that the common law and/or Uniform Commercial Code provisions cannot be inserted into the Song-Beverly Act.

Based on the above-ruling there is now full relief for consumers who have purchased a lemon, but due to financial difficulties have either had the vehicle repossessed or had to get rid of it. Prior to this ruling a client would have simply had to accept a nominal cash settlement. This consumer friendly ruling most definitely extends the rights of consumers in lemon law cases.