Procedural Posture

Procedural Posture

Business

Defendant car manufacturer appealed a judgment from the Superior Court of San Diego County (California) awarding plaintiff Lemon Law penalties under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act for damages and emotional distress, loss of use of her car, and certain incidental monetary damages.

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Overview

Plaintiff’s parents signed a purchase contract for a new car for her when she was 17 years old. While still under warranty, the car was destroyed by fire from a manufacturing defect. Plaintiff sued defendant manufacturer. The jury awarded plaintiff Lemon Law penalties under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act for restitution damages, emotional distress, loss of use of her car, and incidental damages. The jury found defendant’s violation willful, making plaintiff’s total award $ 95,937.54 and $ 50,000 in costs and attorney’s fees. On appeal, the court modified the judgment by striking the awards for emotional distress and loss of use during a period when plaintiff incurred no expense or monetary loss, and affirmed as modified. The court rejected defendant’s contention that it was error to let the jury consider plaintiff’s emotional distress and concluded defendant waived its prejudice claim for failure to object to the willfulness instruction as applied to the Act.

Outcome

The judgment awarding plaintiff Lemon Law penalties under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act was modified by striking the award for loss of use and the award for emotional distress. As modified, the judgment was affirmed.