San Bernardino County Jury Awards $61,416.59, including a Full Civil Penalty against Kia for Defective 2015 Optima under California Lemon Law
In April 2015, our client Norman C. bought a new 2015 Kia Optima for he and his wife to enjoy. Norman owned two prior KIA vehicles and had great experiences, so he decided an Optima would be a good choice for a new family car. Unfortunately, he got stuck with a lemon. Within the first four months of their purchase, the Optima started having problems that would prove irreparable. The check engine light came on when Norman was driving home from work one day, and he promptly brought it back to the dealership. KIA’s authorized repair facility adjusted the oxygen sensor connection and sent Norman on his way, but the next day the check engine light illuminated once more. Over the following eight months Norman brought the Optima in five more times because the check engine light kept returning. Although the dealership replaced oxygen sensors, the catalytic converter, and spark plug and coil assemblies, the problem continued to return.
In March 2016, Norman contacted KIA and requested repurchase of the defective Optima under the California Lemon Law. KIA agreed to Norman’s repurchase request, essentially admitting the Optima was a lemon and KIA’s liability under the California Lemon Law. Unfortunately for Norman, Kia’s buyback calculations added improper offsets, like negative equity, to the repurchase amount. Incredibly, Kia demanded that Norman should pay Kia over $6,000 to return the defective vehicle back to Kia! Norman then did what any buyer with common sense would do. He hired competent counsel to help him pursue his California Lemon Law rights.
Norman’s case went to trial in San Bernardino Superior Court, where Norman and his wife were represented by California Lemon Law trial attorneys Richard M. Wirtz and Jessica R. Underwood of Wirtz Law APC and Brian Altman of the Altman Law Group. After 2.5 weeks of trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Norman and awarded him his full repurchase price and a full civil penalty for KIA’s willful violation of the Song-Beverly Act (California’s Lemon Law), for a total of $61,416.59, plus Kia was ordered to pay Plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs.
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