In 1995, the Krotin v. Porsche Cars North America, Inc., 38 Cal.App.4th 294 court clarified how the California Lemon Law is supposed to work. In rejecting a jury instruction putting an unwarranted burden on California consumers to reject or revoke acceptance of the vehicle to obtain California Lemon Law remedies, the court held that a buyer does not have to make a request to the automaker to trigger his or her rights to a replacement or repurchase. The only obligation on the consumer is providing the automaker an opportunity to repair. I n making these holdings, the court also held that the California Lemon Law contains no “reasonable time” requirement by which the consumer must invoke the Lemon Law or lose rights granted by that statutory scheme.
Moreover, the court unequivocally found that the automakers have an affirmative duty to promptly replace or repurchase their vehicles when a covered defect is not repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. The Krotin court recognized automakers do not routinely make such offers unilaterally, despite their affirmative duty to do so. The Krotin court also rejected the specious argument that automakers would need to be clairvoyant to know when a vehicle qualified for replacement. The Court reasoned that the automaker need only read its dealers’ service records, noting the Lemon Law requires the automaker to maintain or to designate and authorized service and repair facilities in the state. The Court also suggested, back in 1995, computerized recordkeeping at dealership service departments could easily facilitate this task.
The Court also noted that although the jury instruction on appeal accurately stated the California UCC requirement, the California Lemon Law contains no such requirement and instead, sets forth procedures when an automaker is unable to repair a new vehicle to conform to applicable warranties after a reasonable number of attempts. The Court easily reconciled this apparent non-conflict. The Krotin Court held the California Lemon Law undisputedly supplements the consumer’s remedies under the California UCC. A California Lemon Law consumer may have some of the same rights and obligations under the UCC, but where the rights guaranteed to consumers under the California Lemon Law conflict with an obligation under the UCC, the California Lemon Law prevails per the express provisions of the statute itself. Because the Krotins sought remedies under the California Lemon Law and not under the UCC, they were not required to reject or revoke acceptance at a reasonable time, or indeed at any time at all. They weren’t even required to ask for a buyback.
- The consumer is not required to make a request for replacement or restitution
- The consumer is only required to prove the repair facility a reasonable opportunity to repair
- The consumer making a claim under the Lemon Law is not required to reject or revoke acceptance within a reasonable period of time, nor at any time at all
- The automaker has an affirmative to offer replacement or reimbursement to the customer for a qualifying vehicle
- The automaker is not required to be clairvoyant about its defect cars
- The automaker has an affirmative duty to monitor its dealer’s records to detect qualifying vehicles under the California Lemon Law.
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