TALLAHASSEE - Florida's Lemon Law Arbitration Program has surpassed the $350 million mark in refunds and replacements for consumers who bought incessantly defective new vehicles, Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced. Since 1989, the Lemon Law program has produced refunds or replacement vehicles for more than 13,300 consumers.
"For 19 years, Florida's Lemon Law program has been a model among consumer protection efforts," said McCollum. "Floridians have somewhere to turn when their new car turns out to be a lemon, and $350 million in relief certainly demonstrates many Florida residents have relied on this free consumer service."
The $350 million mark was reached late last week with final confirmation of a prehearing settlement in favor of Beverly Bass of Lake City, who complained that her 2005 Mazda RX-8 automobile was experiencing chronic engine problems. Mazda Motor of America, Inc. agreed to repurchase the vehicle and paid more than $28,000 in cash and loan payoff.
Since 1989, the Attorney General's Lemon Law unit has handled 19,053 cases. The total dollar value of the recoveries is $350,032,452, with additional cases pending. The Lemon Law Arbitration Program is jointly administered by the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Florida's Lemon Law requires automobile manufacturers to make a reasonable number of repairs to remedy substantial defects in a motor vehicle. If manufacturers fail to do so, they are required to buy back the defective vehicle and either pay a refund to the consumer or provide a replacement vehicle. Consumers are protected under the Lemon Law for 24 months after the date of delivery of the vehicle. Anyone who experiences problems with a new vehicle during that period should immediately take the vehicle to the manufacturer's authorized dealer.
The Lemon Law program offers consumers a quick and free alternative to court litigation to resolve disputes. It is not necessary for consumers to retain an attorney in order to participate in the Lemon Law arbitration process and consumers who lose an arbitration case are not required to pay the manufacturer's attorney fees, as is often the case in unsuccessful litigation. Detailed information about the Lemon Law Arbitration Program is available through the Attorney General's website at http://myfloridalegal.com/lemonlaw. Consumers who have questions about their rights under Florida's Lemon Law may also call the Lemon Law Hotline toll-free at 1-800-321-5366.