Lemon Law Judgment Against Mercedes-Benz

Buying a “lemon,” a car with a defect that cannot be repaired, is often thought to be a problem with used cars. The recent judgment against Mercedes-Benz USA LLC for $482,000 in damages and legal fees to a Wisconsin customer, tells a different story. This is believed to be the largest judgment involving a single car under a state "lemon law," which protects consumers who are sold junk cars. Wisconsin, along with California, has one of the strongest lemon law statutes. When a customer buys a car that does not run, or cannot be repaired, they are entitled to demand a replacement or refund.

This particular case concerns a 2005 Mercedes-Benz E 320, and it has been in contention for more than four years. Almost immediately after purchase the car often would not start. The battery was replaced multiple times, but the problem continued. After several repair attempts, the dealership said the problem could not be fixed.

Although Mercedes-Benz acknowledged the car was defective, they dragged their heels and the customer had to hire a lemon law attorney to get his refund. Unfortunately, this is not unusual. Dealer and manufacturers tend to “deflect” the customer—the variety of “tricks” they can pull include repairing items that do not actually fix the problem, attempting to convince you that there is actually nothing wrong, “explaining” that the issue is actually part of how the vehicle runs, or claiming the customer is somehow at fault.

This “gauntlet” of distractions can actually extend over years and leave the customer with a non-working vehicle—unless they retain the services of an experienced lemon law attorney.

The many diversionary tactics dealers and manufacturers use—and we are very familiar with all of them—can make this a very frustrating experience for the consumer. It is essential that consumers find protection in the law. The best thing a consumer can do is persevere, and if necessary, contact a qualified lemon law attorney to help them get the replacement or refund they are entitled to by law.