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Florida lemon laws jurisprudence, although not as extensive as California lemon law, has produced a

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Florida lemon laws jurisprudence, although not as extensive as California lemon law, has produced a useful lemon law resource for consumers and potential litigants.

The Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board resolves warranty disputes between Florida consumers and vehicle manufacturers. Hearings are held across the state before three arbitrators appointed by the attorney general. Most hearings last from two to four hours. Both sides can call expert witnesses and present evidence. All hearings are open to the public.

Full transcripts of Arbitration Board hearings can be purchased, but more importantly the Board publishes hearing case summaries quarterly. These summaries are available from the Florida Attorney General's office. These Florida lemon laws arbitration summaries are categorized by particular statute section of the Florida lemon law and are very informative about how the lemon laws are actually being applied.

Although these arbitration decisions are not binding on any other state's lemon law arbitration board or any court, consumers and lemon law attorneys from any jurisdiction can use the legal facts and reasoning to evaluate their own claims or even to prepare for their own arbitration.

Here are some examples from a recent quarterly case summary report.

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Meaning of Consumer

The Consumer testified that he purchased the vehicle for the purposes of resale. Title to the vehicle was held as "Louis Molinaro and Auto Marine Wholesale." Section 681.102(4), Florida Statutes (2005) defines a "Consumer" as: The purchaser, other than for purposes of resale, or the lessee, of a motor vehicle primarily used for personal, family, or household purposes; any person to whom such motor vehicle is transferred for the same purposes during the duration of the Lemon Law rights period; and any other person entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty." The Board found that Mr. Molinaro was not a "consumer" as defined by the statute; therefore, the case was dismissed.

What Constitutes Written Notice

The Consumer sent written notification via a certified letter to the president of American Suzuki Motor Corporation, the Manufacturer, to advise the Manufacturer that the vehicle had been out of service by reason of repair for 15 or more cumulative days. The Manufacturer, through its attorney, asserted that the Consumer's claim should be dismissed, because the Consumer did not give proper notice to the Manufacturer. The Manufacturer contended that the A Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form (found in the "Consumer Guide to the Florida Lemon Law") was the required form of written notification and the Consumer failed to send the form to the Manufacturer. The Board found that the letter addressed to the Manufacturer and sent via certified mail was sufficient to comply with the statute and that contrary to the Manufacturer's assertion, the statute did not require a consumer to utilize the A Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form.

Incidental Damages

The Consumer sought reimbursement for insurance paid on rental cars incurred when the vehicle was at the authorized service agent undergoing repair for the nonconformity. The Manufacturer objected to the Consumer being reimbursed for insurance on the rental cars, on the grounds that it was not a "required" expense. The Board agreed with the Manufacturer and denied the Consumer's request for reimbursement for the insurance charges paid on rental cars.

(c) 2006 by Peter Lawson. Peter is an attorney, writer, and the editor of the Lemon Law Resource Center at www.lemon-laws.us. Get information on lemon laws, California lemon law, and Florida lemon laws.
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