WI Attorney: Don’t Change Our Lemon Law
By Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI
MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin's Lemon Law, which has been on the books since the '80s, is said to be one of the best in the nation. If you plunk down your hard-earned dollars for a new car and it turns out to be a lemon, you get a prompt refund or replacement. But Republican lawmakers are considering a proposal that would substantially weaken the state's Lemon Law, and Madison attorney Terrence Polich regards that as a very bad idea.
"Before there were lemon laws, you wouldn't get a refund," the lawyer recalled. "You wouldn't get taken care of by the manufacturer when you had a lemon. That's why we had to pass the Lemon Law. They would just tell you, 'Too bad, so sad.' They didn't care before. Now the Lemon Law means they have to care."
State Senator Jerry Petrowski and Representative Bill Kramer want to repeal the requirement that the manufacturer must respond with a refund or replacement within 30 days, or pay the consumer double damages. According to attorney Polich, however, this is a solution in search of a problem.
"You very seldom have to sue under the Lemon Law now, and when you do, those cases are almost always resolved quickly," he said. "I can tell you, I haven't had a trial in a Lemon Law case in years. I have found really that I'm doing fewer and fewer Lemon Law cases overall."
Polich said that's because the present law is working so well. You can seek Lemon Law relief on your own in Wisconsin, without a lawyer. There's even a form and instructions put out by the DMV to make it easier.
The balance of power between the consumer and the manufacturer is just as it should be right now, said Polich.
"And if you change that balance and that formula and give the manufacturer more power, it'll be just like the bad old days when they could starve you out, they could litigate to the ends of the earth," he declared. "If you did file a lawsuit against the car manufacturer, you would end up paying more to your attorney than you would be able to recover."
Polich said the Lemon Law is one of the main reasons cars are so much more reliable than they were in the '80s, when the law was passed.
The proposal is AB200.
On March 4th Attorney George Curtis and Attorney Ed Vopal sat down to discuss the proposed changes in Senate Bill 22 and Assembly Bill 29 that was introduced in early February by, Rep. Andre Jacque, Sen. Paul Farrow, and Sen. Glen Grothman. The change overrules the collateral source rule, which has been law in Wisconsin for over a century, and that was recently unanimously upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Watch the video
Take Justice Back
The American Association for Justice has unveiled a new site for U.S. residents who wish to learn about their civil justice system, and the rights they are losing to corporate attacks on that system.
Click on the image in the right column, or check the following features:
Updated WAJ Auto Insurance Brochure
WAJ has created an updated brochure, "Understanding Auto Insurance," to help Wisconsin drivers protect themselves. The brochure should help drivers evaluate what coverage they may need, and the benefits of optional coverage. It also explains the changes in the law effective November 1, 2011, and what they should ask their insurance agent when they buy or renew a policy.
You can read the auto brochure by browsing our Consumer Resources page, which is found under "the truth about the state of justice" at the top of this page.
"Understanding Auto Insurance" also contains a section about “phantom motor vehicles” that make no physical contact with the insured or with a vehicle the insured is occupying. Download the brochure to learn more!
Wisconsin Public News Source Offers Customized Stream of Stories for WAJ Members
The Wisconsin Civil Justice Education Foundation has been a proud sponsor of the Wisconsin Public News Service (PNS) since 2005. PNS, which delivers news in the public interest, also offers a customized stream of stories for WAJ members. Each story has a link to the podcast version of a story that should be of interest to our members and is easy to forward. We are able to receive PNS stories on our issues and have them hosted on our website easily accessible for our WAJ members to hear and share with their family, friends and clients. We hope you check back periodically to hear the newest news podcasts from WAJ. Click here to use this free service.