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Thursday, October 24, 2019

HOW I BECAME A “LEMON LAW” LAWYER


She says her truck has been in the shop for repairs 25 times,” according to the phone message my legal assistant wrote down for me back in the late 1990’s.  It was a message that would launch me to an additional practice area that allowed me to help hundreds of clients with defective new cars and trucks over the last 22 years.

This phone call came around 1998 when I was a young associate in the Parkersburg office of a mid-size Charleston, WV firm. I was handling mainly business cases at the time but was shocked hearing about this lady whose truck had been in the shop for repairs so many times. This seemed unbelievable to me! I liked cars and was proud to still be driving my first car, a Honda Civic, that I purchased brand new. I met with her and learned that she had bought the truck new almost five years earlier and that it had almost 100,000 miles. She also had a stack or work orders documenting repairs to the truck on 25 different occasions – an average of 5 repairs every year!  No other lawyer had been willing to talk with her.

There had to be a way to help her. I knew of no other lawyer who did this type of case, so I was on my own. I had vaguely heard of the term lemon law and my research soon turned up West Virginia’s version known as the New Motor Vehicle Warranty Act.  Under our law, one of the ways a vehicle is “presumed” to be a lemon is if it has been repaired 3 times in the first year for a material defect and the problem still exists. The law also provided I could get my attorney fees paid by the manufacturer if successful. However, any suit had to be brought within one year of the end of the express warranty. Luckily this lady’s truck came with a 5 - year 100,000-mile warranty. 
           
I still had time to help her and I did. A letter to the manufacturer resulted in a settlement. The client was happy, my boss was impressed, and I was hooked on how this law worked.   

Graduating from the WVU School of Law in 1992, I never would have imagined my practice would include West Virginia lemon law as well as Ohio Lemon Law work. It certainly is a unique area of law and definitely what would be considered a niche practice area. Fortunately, there are many lawyers like me, who got their start in a unique practice area by insisting there had to be a way to help someone in need.
           




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HOW I BECAME A “LEMON LAW” LAWYER

“ She says her truck has been in the shop for repairs 25 times,” according to the phone message my legal assistant wrote down f...