Riverside County (Palm Springs) Jury Awards a Full Buyback of $35,450 Against Kia for Defective 2012 Sorrento under California Lemon Law
Our clients, Marty A. and his wife Sandra, purchased a new 2012 KIA Sorrento as a present to each other. Unfortunately, the SUV turned out to be no gift. Within 5 months, the transmission failed. Leaking Fluid within the torque converter made the transmission irreparable, so KIA’s authorized repair facility elected to replace it with a reconditioned (previously used and “re-manufactured”) component. To Marty’s dismay, this was only the start of the problems with the Sorrento. Over the next four years, the Sorrento had many other issues, including problems with the battery, power-steering, engine, and hatch struts, to name a few. Enough was enough when the engine failed completely, leaving Sandra stranded and terrified in the middle of the night when driving to an early work shift. They sold the vehicle immediately to avoid putting their family in danger.
Marty contacted KIA and asked for a repurchase under the Lemon Law. In response, KIA wrongly informed him that because he received fair market value when he traded in the Sorrento, KIA would not offer any assistance. KIA’s response was legally invalid for multiple reasons, including that a consumer does not have to keep a defective vehicle to pursue Lemon Law rights. See, Martinez v. Kia Motors America, Inc., (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 187, 192: As framed by the parties, this appeal is limited to the question of whether a plaintiff must possess or own the vehicle at issue in order to obtain replacement or restitution pursuant to the [California Lemon Law]. We hold that under the applicable statutes a plaintiff does not need to possess or own the vehicle to avail himself or herself of the [California Lemon Law’s] remedies. To judicially impose such a requirement into the [California Lemon Law] is contrary to the purpose of the [California Lemon Law] and runs afoul of principles relating to statutory construction.”
After KIA’s refusal, Marty hired counsel. The case went to trial in the Palm Springs courthouse of the Riverside County Superior Court, where Marty and Sandra were represented by California Lemon Law trial attorneys Richard M. Wirtz and Jessica R. Underwood from Wirtz Law APC. After two weeks of trial, the Jury returned a verdict in favor their favor and awarded damages in the full amount they paid for the vehicle as provided for by the California Lemon Law, for a total judgment of $35,450.
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