New Jersey Lessees Win Victory in State Supreme Court

Lemon law firm once again defeats Honda's plan to take away consumer rights

TRENTON, NJ - March 1,2006: Car lessees in New Jersey should have the same rights as buyers, according to a ruling that came down from the New Jersey Supreme Court Monday. The Court ruled 6-1 that the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act protects both consumers who purchase and lease their vehicles, and they reinstated the case of Camden County consumer who leased a defective Honda Passport. The plaintiff, Christopher Ryan, is represented by the Cherry Hill, NJ-based lemon law firm of Kimmel and Silverman.

In the case of Christopher Ryan vs. Honda, Ryan leased a 1999 Honda Passport and experienced engine problems on the vehicle starting at 22,000 miles. At first, the dealer concluded that the problem was not covered under warranty and instructed Ryan to file an insurance claim, which he did. But, after the insurance company covered the repairs, and Ryan covered the deductible, he continued to experience problems with the engine. Because the problems occurred after the first 18,000 miles of protection provided by the New Jersey Lemon Law, Ryan had to enforce his warranty rights under federal warranty law.

The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act is designed to protect consumers who suffer a non-conformity during their warranty period which can't be fixed despite repeated repair attempts. Like the New Jersey Lemon Law, the statute contains a fee-shifting provision, which enables consumer firms, like Kimmel and Silverman, to provide cost-free legal representation to distressed drivers. If the consumer prevails, the manufacturer must pay all attorneys fees and legal costs on top of what the plaintiff receives.

In the case, Honda argued that they owned the vehicle, not Ryan, and therefore Ryan was not entitled to enforce any rights. The Camden County Superior Court agreed with Honda. Kimmel and Silverman immediately appealed to the New Jersey Appeals Court and received a unanimous appeal in their favor. Honda then appealed the decision to the State's Supreme Court.

"Lessees make up a large percentage of New Jersey drivers," said Ryan's counsel, Lemon Law Attorney Robert M. Silverman. "We are elated that the Court recognizes that the manufacturer still has certain rights and responsibilities to this public, and if their vehicle fails to meet the lessees' satisfaction, they have rights to a remedy."

With six full-service offices throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts and Delaware, Kimmel and Silverman is the Northeast's oldest and largest lemon law and consumer advocacy firm. The firm has provided cost-free lemon law and breach of warranty help to more than 35,000 consumers since its inception in 1991. For more information about consumers' rights under the New Jersey Lemon Law and the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, visit http://www.lemonlaw.com.

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