The Consumer Gets a Consumer Rights Decision

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.

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