November 26, 2012

Question: What is a representation agreement that my attorney is asking me to sign?

Typically, a consumer contacts a Texas lemon law office and submits paperwork/documentation for a case evaluation regarding his/her vehicle. This case evaluation is usually free for the consumer. The submitted documentation is reviewed by an attorney, paralegal, or legal staff. Thereafter, the attorney or legal staff will discuss options (if any) and expectations with the consumer.

After the discussion with the Texas lemon law lawyer, the consumer may wish to retain the attorney for representation. The lawyer would then have the consumer review and sign a representation agreement.

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A representation agreement is a contract between the consumer and the attorney. A good agreement usually outlines expectations, responsibilities, and fee arrangements. It is designed to protect both parties, in case a conflict or issue arises. Before signing a representation agreement, it is important for the consumer to read it carefully and ask questions on any terms that may be confusing or unclear.

August 7, 2012

Manufacturer's/Service Center's satisfaction surveys and the Lemon Law

Satisfaction surveys or questionnaires is the manufacturer's method of receiving feedback from consumers. The car dealearship sometimes cash rebates and incentives from the manufacturer when they recieve consistent positive feedback from the manufacturer.

In addition, arguably most important, the vehicle manufacturer may use this information as evidence against the consumer during lemon law litigation. I handled a case where the client was a really nice guy, but honestly dissatified with the dealer's handling of his defective car. He wrote a positive review (without conferring with me beforehand) because it was against his nature to be negative or critical of anyone. During the discovery phase of our lemon law suit, opposing counsel used this as one of the arguments and key evidence to try and prove that the dealer did everything right.

The important thing when answering these surveys is to be objective and honest. Extract your emotions; be professional. If the dealer was neglient or careless, state it in specificity. If you have any doubts, contact a lemon law attorney as soon as possible. Thanks to the attorney fee shifting position, the consumer usually does not have to pay the attorney fees for representation.

May 18, 2012

One key difference between state versus federal lemon laws in Texas

Often times, when our office files a lawsuit against a car manufacturer (such as Chrysler, Ford, or General Motors) and/or dealerships; we cite to both state and federal lemon laws. Both laws provide consumers with limited protection and recourse against the wrongdoer. The federal lemon law applies to all 50 states and the District of Columbia; while the Texas lemon law only applies to vehicles that generally has been purchased in the state of Texas.

One key difference between the federal Magnuson Moss Act and the Texas Lemon Law (found in the Texas Occupations Code and Texas Transportation Code) is the attorney fee shifting provision.

The federal law allows the prevailing consumer's attorney to recover attorney fees and costs from the defendant (vehicle manufacturer/dealer). In other words, if your new car, truck, boat, motorhome, or recreational vehicle fails you multiple times and you win or settle your case, then manufacturers (such as Honda, Chrysler, Toyota, Kia, Coachmen, Gulfstream, Newmar, or Vogue) will have to pay for your attorney fees.

The attorney fee shifting provision of the Texas Lemon Law is slightly different and more cumbersome against the consumer. The consumer must partake in a judicial hearing. The only time that the manufacturer or dealership is required to pay for the consumer's attorney fees is if the manufacturer/dealer is represented by the attorney at the hearing. Manufacturers circumvent this loophole by never allowing their attorneys to go to these hearings. Instead, they send vehicle experts with legal background and experience to these hearings. These legal experts often time attend so many hearings through the years that even the administrative judge who is in charge of the hearing know them by name and background.

Why the Texas legislature did not consider this potential bias against the consumer when they wrote the Texas lemon law is beyond me? Or, perhaps Texas legislature did consider this and gave in to the heavy annual lobbying and campaign contributions of these large manufacturers -- who knows...

November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

I hope everyone has a safe and festive Thanksgiving.

December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I would like to wish everyone a Happy Holidays and a Merry New Year.

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

On behalf of my lemon law office, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

September 19, 2010

Top Texas Lemon Law Myth

After handling numerous Texas Lemon Law cases, I have noticed that the biggest misconception that vehicle owners or consumers have when it comes to the Texas Lemon Law is that they think a lemon law replacement or buyback is quick and automatic.

The statement I hear most often is, "what do you mean it may take several weeks or months to determine if I am eligible for a buyback or refund?...my car is a piece of junk and I have taken it in over 3 times!" It is true that under the Texas Lemon Law, consumers have rights, but those rights are minimal. Some consumers who moved to Texas from California presumes that the lemon laws in Texas are the same, if not better than California Lemon Law. Unfortunately, that is not true.

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While the quick and automatic buyback/replacement myth may be partially true in a very small number of cases, the reality is that the law has more nuisances and traps in it than most people realize. My number one advice when it comes to lemon law cases is to be patient and to seek the help of someone who is experienced and can guide you in the right direction.

June 23, 2010

Texas Lemon Law Blog Celebrates its Three Years Anniversary!

It is hard to believe it, but it has been over three years since I posted my first Texas Lemon Law blog article. I hope that consumers and fellow attorneys find the posts on here helpful.

Here is a re-cap of my 3 most favorite posts on this lemon law blog site:

1) Texas Lemon Law Deadline -- written on November 5th 2007, the deadline for filing a lemon law claim in Texas still holds true. Act swiftly, as failure to timely file may mean that you lose right to your claim for a repurchase or replacement of a defective new lemon car. In the event that your deadline has past, you may have other claims with longer deadlines. Consult a lemon law attorney as soon as possible!

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2) Tips When Bringing Your Vehicle in for Repairs -- written recently on May 2, 2010, this post focuses on how to gather documentation evidence for your potential lemon law case. Preparation is the key to making sure that the service center addresses properly addresses your concern.

3) Texas Lemon Law and Used Cars -- written on September 11, 2007, this article explains how used or pre-owned cars are protected under the Texas Lemon Law. In a nutshell, there is protection, but the protection is virtually useless. Please note that my lemon law office does NOT handle used or pre-owned cases.

Please keep in mind that the information on this site is not legal advice and should not be deemed as such. Consult with a lemon law attorney if you believe you may have a lemon law claim.

September 16, 2009

How General Motor's Money Back Guarantee will create more lemon cars in the demo and used car market

At the end of the day, it's all a numbers game. For future demo or used GM car buyers, the number might not be in your favor. Here's why...

General Motors' new money-back guarantee will most likely attract many consumers and new car buyers between September 14 - November 30. After the wave of car purchasers drive the vehicle for 31 to 60 days, a percentage of these folks will take advantage of the money-back guarantee program and return the vehicle (sometimes between October 15 through December 29).

The reasons for returns, like electronics, may vary from preference (nothing is wrong with the vehicle) to defects (the vehicle's engine is sputtering black smoke and it's been taken back 4 times for repairs). Unlike returned electronics, GM has been silent and has not mentioned any refurbish or product re-certification program.

In other words, cars returned from the money-back guarantee may or may not have a "refurbished" sticker on them. They will join the inventory of other used cars and there will most likely be a flood of used cars on the market by December or January.

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Another indirect problem this will create points to simple economics. More supply equals less demand and decrease in price. In other words, with the saturation of used GM cars on the market, depreciation will probably be worse than it ever will be.

If you are think that used cars are protected under the Texas Lemon Law program, then think again. The protection is very limited and often times, not very advantageous for the consumer.

I hope my projections are wrong. If it is not, then it appears that GM's money-back guarantee program might be a lemon program.

September 17, 2008

If your car is lemon-free, then the next step is to find a lemon-free car insurance provider...

Working with Texas lemon law related car claims on a daily basis gives me a unique opportunity to view the automotive and insurance industry differently from most consumer's point of view. Recently, I stumbled on this great car insurance website that helps consumers with quality information on car insurance information and providers.

Here's a brief plug about the site:

"In most of the United States, having some kind of car insurance isn't just a good idea, it's the law. Paying for insurance can be a strain even for those of us for whom the price of gas earlier this summer was more of an annoyance than a financial catastrophe, especially if we drive cars with high accident statistics, or large engines. "Knowing is half the battle," the proverb says, and when it comes to finding cheap car insurance, those in the know head toward CarInsuranceList.com.

Why visit CarInsuranceList.com? Let me list the reasons:

1. Ad-free, all the time. You won't find annoying pop-up ads anywhere on this site, and you also won't have to spend valuable minutes trying to figure out which links lead to legitimate information, and which are cleverly concealed text-ads for completely unrelated products and services.

2. News and Articles. CarInsuranceList.com has an in-house staff of writer/researchers whose job it is to share important insurance industry news (including special phone numbers for disaster issues and changes to rates or rules), updated several times a month, as well as more in-depth articles that explore many facets of the auto insurance industry. Recent article topics include prevention of motorcycle accidents, and a look at how credit scoring is used in the insurance industry.

3. Static Pages that are Anything But. At CarInsuranceList.com, even the static pages (the ones that have fixed content) contain a wealth of useful information, including explanations of different types of insurance, and tips on saving money without compromising your physical or financial safety. They offer advice on defensive driving (including the information that taking a class in this can net you a significant discount) and a detailed essay on what makes a rate, among other subjects.

4. Reviews. CarInsuranceList.com staffers have researched many of the biggest and most popular auto insurance companies currently doing business in the United States as well as the heavy hitters in the United Kingdom, and shared the results with their site visitors. The offered information includes overviews of these companies' websites as well as their product lines. This is a great help for comparison shoppers.

5. Free Quotes. The raison d'etre for any insurance site is its quote engine – and CarInsuranceList.com is no exception to this rule. Their quote request system is accessible via a friendly that appears on every page, but never seems obnoxious or pushy. Once clicked, visitors will be asked to supply some basic information about their location and the make and model of the car they wish to insure. Information is transmitted through secure servers, and is never sold or shared without permission. A short time later, a quote is sent directly to the user's email address, connecting them to an insurance company or agent local to them, but without any obligation.

Studies have shown that shopping for insurance online saves considerably money over more traditional methods of hunting for coverage. At CarInsuranceList.com, all the information you need is in one clean, convenient location, making the search for inexpensive coverage that much simpler."

February 5, 2008

Steroid use, Texas Lemon Law, and the Texas DTPA

When you buy a new car or other consumer product, you expect to get what you pay for...you expect to not have to sue the car manufacturer under a Texas Lemon Law claim. You make your decision based on specifications and advertisements produced by the manufacturers and distributors. You evaluate your options and consider what features are important to you and how much you are willing to spend. All of this is pretty well known and standard when you are buying a car or a blender or a couch, but what happens when you are paying for entertainment?

One fan of the New York Yankees is suing the team after evidence of steroid use by several of their players came to light in the Mitchell report on drugs in sports. Specifically, Matthew Mitchell, a long time fan, is seeking $221 in repayment for tickets he purchased claiming that the behavior of the team is akin to consumer fraud.

Similar to a typical Texas Lemon Law related case, Mr. Mitchell is seeking refund of his ticket price for five games in which pitcher Andy Pettitte was involved. Mr. Pettitte was named in the Mitchell report and has admitted to using human growth hormones, though he claimed that this was used to hasten healing after an injury – not to enhance on field performance.

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Mr. Mitchell believed that he was buying tickets to baseball games during which his favorite players would be competing naturally – without chemical enhancement. He feels that this is the position that was put forth by the team, and that, given the widespread steroid use, this was a misrepresentation on the part of the team. The case was filed in small claims court in Brooklyn.

We will keep you posted as to the outcome. So far as we know, no such case has been put forward against our local Dallas team, the Texas Rangers.

Consumer fraud can take all forms and may be present in many different types of consumer transactions. If you believe that you have been the victim of consumer fraud with respect to your new car, we may be able to help you. For more information, visit our web site at www.texaslemon.com

This article was written by C. Fischer. Mr. Fischer is a consultant to my office.

January 29, 2008

What the Texas Lemon Law, descriptions of Chrysler cars, and fine Corinthian Leather has in common

When you read or hear the description of a new car,...the amenities and features flow by almost lyrically. Everything is couched in glowing terms that are designed by car marketing executives to sell you not just a means of transportation, but on an idea – a fantasy. You should expect your new car to function as advertised and to have all the amenities that are described, but what if the description does not match with the actual performance of the vehicle, thereby making it a lemon car?...and what if the description include terms made up by the automobile manufacturer?

In the first case, you should most likely contact a properly licensed Texas Lemon Lawyer as soon as possible. If the second case applies, then continue reading...

One phrase that you have perhaps heard in this context is “rich Corinthian leather”. The term “Corinthian leather” has been used by Chrysler in describing leather in some of its luxury cars since the 1970’s. It was first used in ads for the Chrysler Cordoba, The name Cordoba came from the Argentine Cordoba coin which was used as part of the logo for the car.

In keeping with a somewhat Hispanic theme, the spokesperson for the Cordoba was Ricardo Montalban, Montalban is a Mexican born actor with a very lengthy career (going back to the 1940’s) and a smooth accented voice. One plausible story goes that during the filming of the commercials for the new Cordoba, Montalban improvised a bit and came out with the phrase “soft Corinthian leather”.

Continue reading "What the Texas Lemon Law, descriptions of Chrysler cars, and fine Corinthian Leather has in common" »

December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Have a happy and safe holidays.