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1.8.1 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Lemon Laws, and UDAP Statutes

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act377 and state lemon laws378 are remedial statutes that are to be construed liberally to effectuate their purposes. Ambiguities in these statutes should be construed in favor of those who are intended to benefit from the legislation, that is, consumers.379 This maxim has been applied to questions of scope,380 substantive requirements381 and remedies.382 Restrictions and exceptions should not be read into these statutes.383

State unfair and deceptive acts and practices (UDAP) statutes are also frequently applied to consumer warranty issues.384 These statutes also require a liberal construction.385

Footnotes

  • 377 {344} Anderson v. Gulf Stream Coach, Inc., 662 F.3d 775, 780 (7th Cir. 2011) (“The MMWA is a remedial statute designed to protect consumers against deceptive warranty practices.”); Farley v. Country Coach, Inc., 2008 WL 905215 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 28, 2008), aff’d, 403 Fed. Appx. 973 (6th Cir. 2010); Kennedy v. Robert Lee Auto Sales, 882 N.W.2d 563 (Mich. Ct. App. 2015) (Act’s remedial nature is a reason not to base attorney fee award solely on results obtained); Jordan v. Transnational Motors, Inc., 537 N.W.2d 471 (Mich. Ct. App. 1995); DiCintio v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 713 N.Y.S.2d 808 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2000), aff’d in part, modified in part on other grounds, 724 N.Y.S.2d 717 (N.Y. App. Div. 2001), rev’d on other grounds, 768 N.E.2d 1121 (N.Y. 2002). See also Hillery v. Georgie Boy Mfg., Inc., 341 F. Supp. 2d 1112 (D. Ariz. 2004) (Act is remedial).

  • 378 {345} CALIFORNIA: Brand v. Hyundai Motor Am., 173 Cal. Rptr. 3d 454 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014) (Song-Beverly Act); Donlen v. Ford Motor Co., 158 Cal. Rptr. 3d 180 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013); Martinez v. Kia Motors Am., Inc., 122 Cal. Rptr. 3d 497, 501–502 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011); Robertson v. Fleetwood Travel Trailers of Cal., Inc., 50 Cal. Rptr. 3d 731 (Cal. Ct. App. 2006); Needham v. Gen. Motors Corp., 2004 WL 2153790 (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 27, 2004); Oregel v. Am. Isuzu Motors, Inc., 109 Cal. Rptr. 2d 583 (Cal. Ct. App. 2001) (lemon law should be given construction consistent with its remedial purpose); Music Acceptance Corp. v. Lofing, 39 Cal. Rptr. 2d 159 (Cal. Ct. App. 1995) (Song-Beverly Act); Kwan v. Mercedes-Benz of N. Am., Inc., 28 Cal. Rptr. 2d 371 (Cal. Ct. App. 1994) (Song-Beverly Act). See also Jiagbogu v. Mercedes-Benz USA, 13 Cal. Rptr. 3d 679 (Cal. Ct. App. 2004).

    CONNECTICUT: Cagiva N. Am., Inc. v. Schenk, 680 A.2d 964 (Conn. 1996) (liberal construction required, but court still concludes that motorcycle is not covered by state lemon law).

    DELAWARE: Harmon v. Concord Volkswagen, Inc., 598 A.2d 696 (Del. Super. Ct. 1991) (as remedial statute intended to provide additional remedies and protection to buying public, should be interpreted with reasonable breadth).

    FLORIDA: King v. King Motor Co., 780 So. 2d 937 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2001).

    MICHIGAN: Jordan v. Transnational Motors, Inc., 537 N.W.2d 471 (Mich. Ct. App. 1995).

    MINNESOTA: Cf. Anderson v. Newmar Corp., 319 F. Supp. 2d 943 (D. Minn. 2004) (lemon law has liberal purpose but court must give effect to restrictive language concerning coverage of motor homes).

    NEW JERSEY: Singer v. Land Rover N. Am., 955 F. Supp. 359 (D.N.J. 1997).

    NEW YORK: In re DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Spitzer, 860 N.E.2d 705 (N.Y. 2006); Nulud v. Mercedes-Benz USA, L.L.C., 831 N.Y.S.2d 360 (N.Y. Civ. Ct. 2006) (table).

    OHIO: Collins v. Mullinax E., Inc., 795 N.E.2d 68 (Ohio Ct. App. 2003); Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp. v. Hollanshead, 663 N.E.2d 663 (Ohio Ct. App. 1995) (lemon law must be liberally construed, but plaintiff loses on facts). See also Royster v. Toyota Motor Sales, 750 N.E.2d 531 (Ohio 2001) (lemon law must be simple and must have teeth to be effective).

    OREGON: Sweeney v. SMC Corp., 37 P.3d 244 (Or. Ct. App. 2002) (construing lemon law in light of its purpose to increase incentives for compliance by manufacturers).

    VERMONT: Muzzy v. Chevrolet Div., 571 A.2d 609 (Vt. 1989).

    VIRGINIA: Reynolds v. Freightliner L.L.C., 2007 WL 2220569 (W.D. Va. Aug. 2, 2007); Nedelka v. Kia Motors of Am., Inc., 77 Va. Cir. 379 (Va. Cir. Ct. 2009); Varisce v. Ford Motor Co., 46 Va. Cir. 270 (Va. Cir. Ct. 1998).

    WISCONSIN: Tammi v. Porsche Cars N. Am., 536 F.3d 702 (7th Cir. 2008) (Wis. law), later opinion at 340 Fed. Appx. 339 (7th Cir. 2009); Marquez v. Mercedes-Benz USA, L.L.C., 815 N.W.2d 314, 321–322, 325 (Wis. 2012); Garcia v. Mazda Motor of Am., Inc., 682 N.W.2d 365 (Wis. 2004); Dieter v. Chrysler Corp., 610 N.W.2d 832 (Wis. 2000) (“Remedial statutes like the lemon law are to be construed with a view towards the social problem the legislature was addressing when enacting the law.” (citation omitted)). See also Burzlaff v. Thoroughbred Motorsports, Inc., 758 F.3d 841 (7th Cir. 2014) (Wis. law). But see Bushendorf v. Freightliner Corp., 13 F.3d 1024 (7th Cir. 1993) (Wis. law) (finding canon of liberal construction “useless” as aid to interpretation of lemon law).

  • 379 {346} Muzzy v. Chevrolet Div., 571 A.2d 609 (Vt. 1989).

  • 380 {347} Rothermel v. Safari Motor Coaches, 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21591 (N.D. Ohio July 29, 1994); DiCintio v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 713 N.Y.S.2d 808 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2000) (applicability of lemon law to leased vehicle), aff’d in part, modified in part on other grounds, 727 N.Y.S.2d 305 (N.Y. App. Div. 2001), rev’d on other grounds, 768 N.E.2d 1121 (N.Y. 2002).

  • 381 {348} Muzzy v. Chevrolet Div., 571 A.2d 609 (Vt. 1989) (question of whether manufacturer has final opportunity to repair).

  • 382 {349} Jordan v. Transnational Motors, Inc., 537 N.W.2d 471 (Mich. Ct. App. 1995) (attorney fee award); Varisce v. Ford Motor Co., 46 Va. Cir. 270 (Va. Cir. Ct. 1998) (allowing buyer to recover finance charges accrued before suit filed).

  • 383 {350} Martinez v. Kia Motors Am., Inc., 122 Cal. Rptr. 3d 497 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011) (state lemon law).

  • 384 {351} See § 11.1, infra.

  • 385 {352} See National Consumer Law Center, Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices §§ 2.1.3, 3.1.2 (9th ed. 2016), updated at www.nclc.org/library.