The issue of whether a truck used for business purposes falls within the
purview of the Song Beverly Act (California Lemon Law) when its weight exceeds the 10,000 lbs limit has been a problem for truck
owners with serious repeating defects for some time.
Norman Taylor and Associates has handled many lemon law cases involving
trucks. In the Joyce v. Ford case, the debated issue was the definition
of gross vehicle weight (GVW) versus gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)
in the interpretation of the law and which weight measurement law makers
originally intended to use when enacting the law.
To those working on these cases, weight vs. weight rating has always been
a serious topic of discourse between plaintiff’s attorneys and the
attorneys of dealers and manufacturers. Manufacturers have long asserted
that many small business owner’s lemon law claims should be dismissed
because their vehicle exceeded the maximum weight requirement and by definition
did not meet the qualifications of the California lemon law.
In the Joyce case, Ford insisted that Mr. Joyce’s defective truck
didn’t qualify for the Lemon Law because it was not a “New
Vehicle” by definition. Ford’s basic interpretation was the
gross vehicle weight
rating of Mr. Joyce’s truck exceeded10,000 pounds. Ford further argued
that the weight which the statute refers to, gross vehicle weight, is
the gross vehicle weight rating, which is actually the towing capacity
of the truck. By using the gross vehicle weight rating, Ford, in essence
would be limiting many truck owners from seeking recourse under the California
lemon law. The trial judge rejected Ford’s argument and agreed with
Mr. Joyce. The statute clearly mentions gross vehicle weight.
The actual weight of Mr. Joyce’s truck was less than 10,000 pounds.
Even with a fuel tank he added, and other materials for his work, himself
and perhaps a passenger, the vehicle still fell far short of the 10,000
pound limit, even though the truck had a capacity to tow more than 10,000 pounds.
The court stated unequivocally that the truck qualified as a
New Motor Vehicle because the truck weighed less than 10,000 pounds regardless of the potential
capacity of the truck and there was no reason why Mr. Joyce, based on
the defect record, could not bring a Lemon Law suit.
It isn’t very complex. The Song Beverly Act says gross vehicle weight.
“Joyce v. Ford Motor Company is an excellent example of what is right
and fair,” states
Norman F. Taylor, who has been practicing in the area of lemon law since 1987, “and
this case was an illustration of the manufacturer’s attempt to morph
the California lemon law into something that it is not.” It is what
people who debate call asophistry:
This is the clever use of reasons or explanations that seem correct but
are really false, in order to deceive people.Fortunately, the courts have clarified the issue and sided with the many
California consumers and small business owners who depend on their trucks
for their livelihood.
If you think you might be driving a lemon, the best course of action is
to contact a qualified lemon law attorney right away.