This is TEL-LAW Tape #6058 The Louisiana Lemon Law In mid 1980, the Louisiana legislature enacted what is commonly referred to as the “Lemon Law”. The purpose of the lemon law is to provide for consumer protection for those who purchase or lease new motor vehicles that do not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranties. The act defines a consumer to be a purchaser or lessor of a new motor vehicle normally used for personal, family or household purposes. It appears that occasional business use would not extent one from the definition as long as the vehicle is normally used for personal, family or household use. While this definition does not cover the purchase of used car, there is law known as “redhibition” that protects such purchasers. The definition of consumer also requires that the vehicle be purchased or leased “subject to a manufacturer’s express warranty”. The manufacturer’s express warranty means “the written warranty of the manufacturer of a new vehicle of its condition for fitness and use” and therefore the extent and nature of the warranty is decided by the written terms of the manufacturer. Generally cars, vans, and trucks are covered but not motor homes, trailers or motorcycles. The act defines “non-conformity” as “any specific or generic defect or malfunction, where any defect or condition which substantially impairs the use and/or market value of the motor vehicle.” If the vehicle does not conform to an express warranty and the consumer reports this to the dealer or manufacturer, the vehicle must be repaired although the act does not provide for damages to the consumer when the repair is refused. Even so, the consumer must make the vehicle available for repair before the expiration of the warranty or before one year from the date the consume takes possession of the vehicle, whichever is earlier. Since most vehicle warranties are in excess of one year, the standard being three years or 36,000 miles, the consumer usually only has one year within which to utilize the lemon law. However, if the warranty is only six months, then the lemon law applies only for those six months. A non-conformity is presumed if a vehicle is out of service for a cumulative total of thirty days or more or is the same non-conformity has been the subject of repair four or more times. That means, any one or group of non-conformities that cause the vehicle to be out of service for over thirty days can constitute non-conformity. However, fewer than thirty days can lapse if a single problem is attempted to be repaired four or more times without any result. It is unfortunately arguable that the thirty-day out-of-service period of four or more time’s repair occurs within the warranty term or during the one year following the date of original delivery. If either way of non-conformity occurs, the dealer has the option to replace the vehicle or rescind the sale. That is, you get a comparable vehicle or your money back. If the manufacturer rescinds the sale, the purchaser is entitled to any amounts paid at the point of sale such as governmental charges such as taxes and all other collateral cost, less a reasonable allowance for the use of the vehicle. If a manufacturer establishes an informal dispute settlement procedure a consumer cannot bring a lawsuit until the procedure is completed. The manufacturer must establish what is called an “informal dispute mechanism” and advise the consumer of its availability. This is usually done within the owner’s manual supplied with the vehicle. The manufacturer must pay for and completely inspect the mechanism and cannot charge consumers for any fee of its use. The mechanism established written operating procedures, shall investigate, gather and organize all information necessary for a fair decision, and must render a decision within forty days. If the consumer is dissatisfied with this decision, then the consumer can sue in court. The consumer must surrender a clear title to the manufacturer once its decides whether it will refund or replace the vehicle. The manufacturer is obligated to return the purchase price or provide a comparable new vehicle within thirty days after title is transferred or within thirty days of the decision by the informal dispute settlement mechanism. All other rights or remedies provided to a consumer are available in addition to the rights and remedies of the lemon law. As a consequence, the laws of “redhibition”, ___________”, “Fraud”, and “failure of consideration” actions are always available in addition to the lemon law. These different causes of actions may provide a consumer with protection when purchasing used vehicle or vehicles that otherwise do not fit within the lemon law and an attorney should be consulted. Lemon law also provides the consumer with reasonable attorney’s fees if suit must be filed and a judgment is rendered in the consumer’s favor.
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