A prospective client brought me an interesting situation. She had a lemon
law claim against Ford, but what she brought with her was evidence of
the latest scam by Ford Motor Co. to escape it’s liabilities under
The woman had taken her vehicle in for warranty repair. The part necessary
to effect the repair was on back order and so her vehicle was to be in
the shop for a few weeks until it came in. With a smile on their face,
the dealer offered to put her into a rental car for the duration of the
waiting time, but at a cost. She was given a Release of All Claims to
sign in exchange for receiving the rental car during the down time. Upon
close examination the Release included forgoing of any lemon law claims,
any product liability claims, virtually any claim that might arise from
ownership of the Ford product. The Release was worded in such a way as
to imply it is being implemented on a nationwide basis, also releasing
Magnuson-Moss claims aka Federal Lemon Law.
The prospective client was smart enough to actually read the Release and
refused to sign it because she had been in several times for the same
defect and was aware that she may have rights under
California’s Lemon Law. She refused to sign it even though the smiling dealership said, “oh,
it’s no big deal; you want the rental don’t you?”
The less sophisticated consumer might not read what they are signing. If
they did sign it, and later it turned out they had a “lemon”,
at best there are issues of whether the Release is enforceable, and whether
the false and misleading statements made to induce the signature are admissible.
Then there are judges who will uphold the Release and slam the door in
the face of the consumer, who is left holding the keys of their
lemon car. I suppose many unsuspecting consumers have and will sign Ford’s
scandalous Release never realizing the impact it might have on them in
the future. This is precisely why Ford does it. This is one way Ford protects
itself from putting out “crap” product to the public.
Who ever said greed was confined to Wall Street?