Butte County Jury Awards $46,716.54, including 2x Civil Penalty Against FCA for Defective Dodge RAM 2500 under California Lemon Law
In April 2013, our clients, Melissa and Geoff W. purchased a pre-owned 2012 Dodge Ram 2500 to be Geoff’s primary vehicle. He’d previously always preferred Chevy trucks, but after hearing great things from friends about how reliable and durable Dodge trucks were, he decided take a shot and give Dodge a chance. Unfortunately, he got saddled with a lemon that didn’t live up to the brand’s hype.
The 2012 Dodge Ram 2500 seemed great at first, but less than a year after purchase it began exhibiting catastrophic failures with Oxygen sensor and EGR systems. These failures caused dangerous and unsafe loss of power, surging, and the vehicle to completely die while driving on the freeway multiple times. Geoff would repeatedly pick up the vehicle and be unable to make it home before the problems reoccurred. He took it in four times within the same month, but nothing the dealership did resolved the problems.
When Geoff picked up the truck after a month of failed repairs, despite FCA’s assurances that it was fixed, it was still surging and lacking power—he drove it straight over to his local Chevy dealership and traded it in. Later, based on documents produced by FCA in discovery, Geoff learned that the problems persisted for the next owner and were never truly fixed.
Melissa called FCA directly after the trade-in to ask for reimbursement under the California Lemon Law, but was improperly told that because they no longer owned the vehicle there was nothing FCA could for them. FCA’s response was invalid for multiple reasons, including the fact that a consumer does not have to keep a defective vehicle to pursue California Lemon Law rights according to to Martinez v. Kia Motors America, Inc., (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 187, 192. After FCA’s rejection of the buyback request, Melissa and Geoff hired counsel to pursue their rights.
The case went to trial in Butte County Superior Court, where Melissa and Geoff were represented by California Lemon Law trial attorneys Richard M. Wirtz and Jessica R. Underwood from Wirtz Law APC. After a two week trial, in just under three hours the jury returned a verdict in Plaintiff’s favor and awarded Melissa and Geoff with the maximum damages awardable under the Song-Beverly Act (California Lemon Law): repurchase and a two-time civil penalty, for a total of $46,716.54. The jury agreed that FCA had willfully violated the California Lemon Law by refusing to repurchase the vehicle despite the repeated repair visits and serious, unrepaired defects.
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