Ford Motor Co. admits to lemon law violations in Marion County – Indianapolis Star
Three months after buying a brand new Ford Focus, Benjamin Rubin’s car started rattling, grinding and jerking.
After taking it to the shop for repairs 16 times, filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau and Indiana Attorney General, then trying to unsuccessfully send it back to the manufacturer, the Indiana man filed a lawsuit against Ford Motor Co., in August 2015.
In an unusual move for a car manufacturer, Ford Motor Co. recently admitted to a Marion County judge that it violated Indiana’s Lemon Laws when it sold Rubin the brand new vehicle.
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That admission led to a judgment order dated March 10, where Marion Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Carroll vacated the scheduled jury trial that was set to commence on March 14. The judgment awarded Rubin $8,000, but that amount could still grow.
The judgment stems from Rubin’s breach of contract claims under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the Indiana Motor Vehicle Protection Act, among others.
The laws provide protection to consumers who purchase products — in this case a vehicle — that don’t meet certain basic standards.
To qualify as a lemon under Indiana law, the car must have a substantial defect covered by the warranty that occurred within a certain period of time or number of miles after purchase of the car, and not be fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts.
But Rubin is not alone. He is one of hundreds of people across the country who have sued Ford for defective Focuses.
The Indiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has received 11 lemon law complaints about the Ford Focus that were sold by a variety of dealerships throughout the state, according to data from the Attorney General’s office provided to IndyStar.
A simple Twitter search of “Ford Focus Lemon” reveals angry and frustrated tweets from people around the country who say they have experienced transmission and other issues with the vehicle. Rubin’s vehicle experienced transmission and engine problems.
Hundreds of complaints related to the Ford Focus have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Complaints registered on safercar.gov describe transmission issues, door latch problems and faulty clutches.
A class-action suit in the Central District of California claims Ford failed to alert customers that its Powershift Transmission in the 2011-15 Fiesta and 2012-15 Focus is defective. The case is ongoing.
Ford’s legal representative was not available to comment Thursday or Friday.
Facts of case
Rubin purchased the 2013 Ford Focus for $22,588, not including tax, tag and title, and took possession of the vehicle on July 16, 2013.
Three months later, he started having engine and transmission problems, when his car began “rattling, grinding, jerking, and shuddering,” according to the complaint filed in Marion County Superior Court.
Rubin’s attorney said his client took the vehicle in for repairs 16 times, and on May 6, 2015, Rubin notified the manufacturer of the defects and “revoked acceptance of the vehicle.”
The manufacturer refused to give Rubin a refund on the vehicle. He filed a complaint with the state Attorney General’s office in February 2015 and the Better Business Bureau in July 2015.
Rubin asked the court to award him the cost of the vehicle, costs for repairs, consequential and incidental damages and attorney fees. Judge Carroll entered his judgment of $8,000 in favor of Rubin and against Ford Motor Co., but the case is ongoing while the court determines Rubin’s request for attorney fees and costs, and to determine any resultant damages Rubin is owed from Ford.
According to the latest judgment order: “Ford Motor Company, hereby admits liability as to Plaintiff’s claims brought pursuant to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the Indiana Motor Vehicle Protection Act.”
Scott Cohen, Rubin’s attorney at Chicago law firm, Krohn & Moss, told IndyStar that he has filed roughly 100 cases nationwide over the transmission and engine problems related to the Ford Focus. He said it is unusual, however, for a car company to admit to Lemon Law violations.
“It’s not unheard of,” Cohen said, adding that he wishes consumers of defective vehicles knew that Indiana law protects buyers of lemons from paying attorney fees if they are successful.
“People live through these problems and keep bringing their vehicles in,” he said, “then throw their hands in the air and deal with driving a lemon for years.”
Call IndyStar reporter Fatima Hussein at (317) 444-6209. Follow her on Twitter:@fatimathefatima.
What to do if You Buy a Lemon
1. Report the problem within 18 months of original purchase or before 18,000 original miles, whichever comes first.
2. Take your vehicle to an authorized dealer for repair.
3. Allow a dealer a reasonable number of attempts to repair.
4. Request a copy of the written repair order every time you take your car to the dealer for repairs.
5. Read your owner’s manual or vehicle warranty.
6. The manufacturer has 30 days to accept return of your vehicle and, at your option, replace the vehicle or refund your money.
7. If the manufacturer does not resolve your claim, you must file a lawsuit within two years from the date you first reported the problem to the dealer.
Source: Indiana Attorney General website