Q. I have three repairs for the same problem. Is it fair to assume I will win my New Jersey lemon law case?
A. Having three repairs is simply the first requirement under the New Jersey lemon law. You need also show that the problems substantially impair use, value, or safety and remain after the manufacturer’s last change repair.
Q. I have over 18,000 miles now but brought the car to the dealer before that time. Is that sufficient?
A. The New Jersey lemon law unit does not accept cases unless a “last chance” letter was sent by certified mail prior to 18,000 miles. However, one can file in court after that time.
Q. I have about 40,000 miles on the car, can I still file under the lemon law?
A. The New Jersey lemon law is not the only statute upon which consumers can rely. One can file for breach of implied warranty (every vehicle has an implied warranty it will be reasonably fit) and breach of express warranty (manufacturer failed to properly repair the vehicle). These claims are filed in court as opposed to the lemon law unit. Generally they are settled for a sum on money to compensate the plaintiff for inconvenience and any costs of repair.
Q. Where is a lemon law claim filed in New Jersey?
A. New Jersey consumers can filed with the lemon law unit (Office of Administrative Law or OAL) — or in court. There are advantages and disadvantages as follows.
Speed of Proceeding: OAL cases come to hearing in approximately 75 days from initial consultation. Trial occurs approximately one year from filing, though mediation is about 90 days. Cases filed in lower court are heard in approximately 90 days.
Success: Only claims for the New Jersey lemon law can be filed in the OAL. If the consumer does not meet the strict requirements he will not prevail. Cases which do not meet lemon law criteria can be filed in court such as matters with misrepresented mileage, problems corrected, dealer misrepresentations. In court, claims for breach of implied warranty, breach of express warranty, dealer fraud, can be combined in one complaint, while the OAL claimant in limited to the single claim under the lemon law.
Remedies: The OAL is an all or nothing law for cases tried, repurchase under the lemon law or decision for the manufacturer. If the consumer prevails, the car must be labeled a lemon and any resale bears the lemon designation. Because of that, manufacturer do not settle close cases because losing and settling involve virtually the same cost. There is greater flexibility and settlement discussion. Settlements can involved cash settlements or other remedies, and judges frequently become involved in helping the parties resolve the case. Additional court time provides an incentive for manufacturer to resolve claims.
Q. Who hears the case?
A. An administrative law judge In law division, cases are heard by a jury, in special civil part (lower court) cases generally heard by judge in court.
Q. Where does your office file?
A. Our office is one of the few which files cases in both venues. We review alternatives with the client and mutually decide where to file. Many attorneys based in Pennsylvania only file in court. We file in both court and the lemon law
Q. Can I view lemon law decisions?
A. Decisions in the New Jersey lemon law forum are available at http://www.lawlibrary.rutgers.edu/oal/search.html. Court decisions are available at versuslaw.com and on the New Jersey judiciary website.