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Glossary of Legal Terms relating to the Lemon Law & Warranty Litigation

Please click a word below to view its definition.
"As is" Selling
Collateral Charges
"Comparable" Vehicle
Court Order
Demand for Production
Express Warranty
Incidental Charges
Lemon Car
Lemon Law
Letter of Notice to Manufacturer
Magnuson-Moss Act
Manufacturer-Sponsored, Certified Arbitration
Odometer Rollback
Proof of Service
Secret Warranty
Service Contracts (Extended Warranties)
Statute of Limitations
Substantially Impair
True Retainer
VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)

Arbitration   Arbitration in a lemon law context is an informal and usually useless process that consumers may use to try and resolve a warranty dispute outside of the court system by presenting it to a third party (ie. the Dispute Settlement Board, Better Business Bureau, etc.) for a decision. In California it is legally binding on the manufacturer only.
"As is" Selling   A car that is sold "as is" is one which is sold with no warranty, such that the dealer and/or seller has absolutely no obligation to make any repairs, regardless of the vehicle's condition.
Brief   A concise statement of a client’s case written for the instruction of an attorney, judge or mediator. A formal written presentation of an argument that sets forth the main points with supporting precedents and evidence - (as for summary judgment). The form of the brief is determined by the procedural rules of that court or jurisdiction.
CLRA   CLRA stands for Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
Collateral Charges   These are additional charges to a consumer that were incurred as a result of the acquisition of the vehicle. They usually include, but are not limited to, the following: charges for manufacturer-installed or agent-installed items; earned finance charges; use taxes; and title charges.
"Comparable" Vehicle   The manufacturer is required to replace the consumer's lemon vehicle with one, which is either identical or reasonably equivalent.
Continuance   The postponement of the court proceedings in a case to a future day.
Court Order   An order issued by a court that requires a person to do or refrain from doing something.
Declaration   A statement made, not under oath, being offered as evidence. This statement is made under penalty of perjury.
Defendant   The party against whom a criminal or civil action is brought.
Demand for Production   In litigation a demand for production is a process of discovery whereby a party to the action makes a request that certain categories of or specific documents are produced that are in one way or another related to the lawsuit.
Deposition   A statement that is made under oath by a party or witness (such as an expert) in response to oral examination or written questions and that is recorded by an authorized officer (such as a court reporter).
Discovery   The methods used by parties to a civil or criminal action to obtain information held by the other party that is relevant to the action.
Expert   A person with special or superior skill or knowledge in a particular area.
Express Warranty   A written warranty, issued by the manufacturer of a new motor vehicle. The express warranty provides certain promises concerning the vehicle's condition, fitness for use and the manufacturer's obligations to repair, including any terms or conditions precedent to the enforcement of obligations under that warranty. An express warranty may also accompany the sale of a used vehicle, depending on mileage and year of the vehicle.
Incidental Charges   These are the reasonable costs incurred by the consumer as a result of the defect(s) about which the consumer is complaining. These charges usually include, but are not limited to, towing charges and the costs of obtaining alternative transportation. Incidental charges usually do not include loss of use, loss of income, or personal injury claims.
Lemon Car   Statutes often define lemon cars and require the entity issuing the warranty to remedy the defects. Most statutes define "lemons" as cars that continue to have a defect that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the car after a reasonable number of attempts to repair the car or after the car has been out of service for a particular number of days.
Lemon Law   Statutes adopted in some states to make it easier for a buyer of a new vehicle to sue for damages or replacement if the dealer or manufacturer cannot make it run properly after a reasonable number of attempts to fix the car. Without a "lemon law" auto makers have often demanded the buyer come back a dozen times and give up use of the car for lengthy periods while they test it, claiming they are "still trying" to make it run right.
Letter of Notice to Manufacturer   A written statement which describes the motor vehicle, the defect, and all previous attempts to repair such defect(s). For example, you may want to include the following information: your name, address, and contact information; a description of the defect and all attempts to correct the defect; a description of the vehicle, including year, make, and model; the vehicle identification number, found on the registration; and a request that the manufacturer repair the defect.
Magnuson-Moss Act   The Magnuson-Moss law is a federal law giving consumers substantial rights in dealing with manufacturers of lemon cars.
Manufacturer-Sponsored, Certified Arbitration   In order for a manufacturer-sponsored arbitration program to be certified in most states, it must meet the following requirements of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for mediation procedures: it must be free of charge; it must be non-binding to the consumer; its decisions must, in general, be given within 30 days after receipt of the buyer's complaint; and its decisions must be free from the influence of the manufacturer.
Mediation   Mediation is inexpensive and informal, and does not require that you hire a lawyer and go to court. It can be preferable to arbitration because it is more flexible - allowing for more creative resolutions. Most states do not offer mediation programs as part of their offerings to help consumers in Lemon Law disputes. Some courts may require the parties to a case to participate in mediation during litigation.
Motion   An application made to a court or judge to obtain an order, ruling, or direction; also a document containing such an application
Odometer Rollback   If a more recent odometer reading is less than an older reading, then the odometer may have been "rolled back." This is an indicator of mileage fraud.
Plaintiff   The party that institutes a lawsuit in a court.
Proof of Service   A statement submitted to the court as evidence of successful service of process to a party. There are 3rd party companies whose business it is to serve legal documents on defendants or plaintiffs.
Secret Warranty   Secret warranties are a manufacturer strategy of paying for repairs after the automobile's written warranty has expired, but only to those consumers who are sufficiently aggressive about complaining. The secret warranty will cover certain component(s) or system malfunctions or defects, which have occurred in a widespread pattern.
Service Contracts (Extended Warranties)   Service contracts and extended warranties are functionally equivalent to each other. The consumer pays an additional amount to the seller or manufacturer for protections against product defects beyond those that are covered by the original express and implied warranties. In some cases a service contract may actually be an Express Warranty.
Statute of Limitations   A statute setting a time limit in which a plaintiff must file a case.
Subpoena   A writ requiring appearance in court to give testimony. To serve or summon with such a writ.
Substantially Impair   This means to significantly diminish or lessen the use of the vehicle, value or safety to the buyer . Certainly defects that cause the vehicle not to start, not to stop, or impair one's ability to operate the vehicle would be substantial impairments. Significant paint defects or defects to key components, like the air conditioning system, might also be considered substantial impairments as well. Whether a defect is a substantial impairment is a decision for the judge or jury in a contested case.
VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)   This 17 character number is unique to each vehicle. It identifies characteristics of the vehicle, including manufacturer, year, model, body, engine specifications, and serial number.
Warranty   A guarantee given on the performance of a product or the doing of a certain thing. For example, many consumer products come with warranties under which the manufacturer will repair or replace any product that fails during the warranty period; the commitment to repair or replace being the "warranty".
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