Consumer Lemon Law

Lemon Law Attorneys Take Niedermeier Case To Supreme Court

Lemon Law Attorneys, Niedermeier vs Chrysler and The California Superme Court

The Lemon Law attorneys working on case no. BC638010 at the California Court of Appeals has had several head-scratching moments.

The California Lemon Law, which protects consumers from defective vehicles, not only failed their plaintiff for 4 years but now gives  Chrysler a platform to continue to battle Niedermeier in court. 

What’s the issue? After Niedermeier sues Chrysler for Song-Beverly Act violations and wins, the jury awards Niedermeier restitution, damages, and a civil penalty for Chrysler not following through with its buy-back obligation.

Chrysler then pushes back by asking for a $18,000 offset for the Jeep trade-in credit they gave Niedermeier when they refused to buy back the Jeep.

Should Chrysler get the trade-in credited to what was awarded to Niedermeier? Is the California Lemon Law language clear in these situations?

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Table of Contents

California Lemon Law Battle: The Issues Presented By Lemon Law Attorneys

Neidermeier v Chrysler California Supreme Court

The Niedermeier case began with FCA’s handling of the defective Jeep questioning the boundaries of legal responsibility and ethical accountability.

While the specifics of the incident that triggered the lawsuit are multifaceted, the crux revolves around the question “Is the defendant financially in a “better position” after the verdict?

That would go against the definition of “restitution” which its goal is for the defendant to financially be at the same place if the car had not been purchased.

Lemon Law criteria

Lemon Law Battle Case Highlights

  • Niedermeier purchases a new Jeep for $40,000, which Chrysler warrants against defects
  • Starting just a month after the purchase and continuing for four years,  Niedermeier brought the Jeep to Chrysler sixteen times for repairs but Chrysler could not repair it.
  • Chrysler repeatedly denies Niedermeier’s requests for statutorily-required replacement or restitution relief. 
  • Chrysler’s refusal to buy back the Jeep forces Niedermeier to sue and trade in the Jeep to purchase a safe car. 
  • The dealership values the Jeep at a $19,000 trade-in value towards buying a new car. 
  • Chrysler now wants the $19,000 credited towards what was awarded after the case was won. 

Lemon lawyers take this case to California’s Court of Appeals

  • Niedermeier sues Chrysler for Song Beverly Act violations.
  • A jury awards Niedermeier the statutory restitution remedy and consequential damages, plus a civil penalty for Chrysler willfully violating its buy-back obligation.
  • Chrysler asks for the court to recognize the $19,000 trade-in that was given to Neidermeier as part of the settlement.
  • The trial court rejects Chrysler’s request for an offset for the Jeep’s trade-in credit.
  • FCA takes the case to the Court of Appeals and wins the appeal deducting the $19,000 from the amount awarded. 
Lemon Law Attorney Checklist

California Supreme Court Hearing on December 5, 2023

Both parties appear in front of the Supreme Court of California and discuss the argument that the trade-in “offset” should be deducted from the civil penalty amount and should it be recalculated after the Court of Appeals granted the deduction of the $19,000 in the restitution award in favor of Chrysler. 

The Supreme Court will give its ruling in the 90 days following the court hearing. 

Our Thoughts

Without a doubt, Chrysler has not handled this Lemon Law case accordingly since the beginning. It’s shocking to hear that their customer bought a brand new Jeep from them and 30 days after the purchase, the defect was identified and dragged on for 4 years, 16 repair attempts, and multiple denials from Chrysler to buy back the defective Jeep. 

The California Lemon Law did work since Niedermeier won the case but the fact that Chrysler is asking for the $19,000 “trade-in” credit back and deducted from what was awarded just doesn’t sit well.

From a customer experience point of view, dragging this issue out 7 years is over the top and $19,000 is not going to break Chrysler. They argue that she is “profiting” from the nightmare but if you break it down, a $40,000 Jeep that was clearly a lemon and only getting $19,000 for it is an insult. 

There are enough cases and a precedent, that will show that deducting the trade-in amount is not appropriate. The hope is that the decision will be overturned and that Chrysler will do the right thing. 

Lemon Law Attorneys and The Niedermeier Case FAQs

The Niedermeier case revolves around a legal dispute that reached the California Supreme Court, challenging the appeals court decision to let Chrysler deduct the $19,000 offset from what was awarded to her.

In this case, the plaintiff, Lisa Niedermeier’s caluclation of damages is being questioned. Specifically the trade-in received for the Lemon vehicle. Chrysler’s stand is that the amount should be deducted from what the court awarded her and the appeals court agreed. The case is now in the hands of the California Supreme Court. 

The Niedermeier case sets a precedent for how similar cases might be approached, influencing future legal interpretations and potentially prompting a reevaluation of legal doctrines in light of societal evolution and ethical considerations.

In Niedermeier v. FCA US LLC (2020), the plaintiff, Lisa Niedermeier, argued that the creation of an unenumerated trade-in credit by the Chrysler encourages manufacturers to delay repurchase lemonsThe plaintiffs also argued that allowing the subtraction would incentivize manufacturers to delay buybacks, effectively weakening the Song-Beverly Act’s protections.

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