According to the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, California’s lemon law, a buyer can recover civil penalties if the manufacturer willfully violated the Act
In this context, “willful” means the manufacturer “knew of its legal obligations and intentionally declined to follow them.” This means that the manufacturer knew what it was doing and intended to do it, that its actions were not accidental. It does not require the manufacturer to have acted in bad faith or maliciously.
A violation is not willful if the manufacturer reasonably and in good faith believed that the vehicle did not qualify for repurchase or replacement.
Courts have interpreted what “willful” means in practice:
If a manufacturer refuses to repurchase or replace a qualifying vehicle without doing any investigation into its qualification could be a willful violation because “a decision made without the use of reasonably available information germane to that decision is not a reasonable, good faith decision.” (Lukather v. General Motors LLC (2010) 181 Cal.App.4th 1041, 1051.)
If a manufacturer “adopts internal policies that erected hidden obstacles to the ability of an unwary consumer” to obtain a repurchase or replacement could be willful. (Oregel v. American Isuzu Motors, Inc. (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 1094, 1104-1105.)
For more information call the experienced trial attorneys at (833) 4MY-LEMON for a free case evaluation.
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