“Lemon Law battle continues”
By: Bill Kaczor, Associated Press; The Times-Union, November 6, 1997
Chrysler keeps fighting ruling over 1988 vehicle
Tallahassee- Chrysler Corp, put the squeeze on the state's "Lemon Law" in arguments yesterday before Florida's Supreme Court, in a case dating back to the Dodge Daytona that Spiro Pitsirelos bought nine years ago.
The Florida law was designed to quickly resolve disputes, and prevent consumers from getting stuck with defective vehicles.
But that's just the opposite of what happened to Pitsirelos, now 48 and living in Tampa, once he drove the brand new car off a Ford Pierce dealer's lot in 1988. He immediately discovered that the windows wouldn't roll all the way up.
What's taken so long with the case is that Chrysler chose to appeal an arbitration panel's finding in favor of Pitsirelos, first to two lower courts, and now the Supreme Court.
If Chrysler loses again, the car maker will have to pay $400,000 and take back the $15,700 car.
The outcome of the case before Florida's high court will be decided at a later date, and it could affect thousands of car buyers.
Since the Lemon Law went into effect in 1983, nearly 8,000 cases have gone to arbitration, with almost 70 percent resolved in favor of consumers. Settlements and judgments have totaled about $120 million.
Until the Pitsirelos case is resolved, the amount Chrysler would have to pay is increasing every day by $25.
That fee is one reason why the case has been appealed.
In Wednesday's arguments, Chrysler lawyer Gregory Anderson told the Justices that the daily fee's only purpose is to discourage manufacturer's from exercising their constitutional right to go to court.
"There's really no reason for the $25 per day," Anderson said. "It is not tied to any particular damage. It's not tied to loss of use. It's not tied to anything...It is punitive in nature."
Pitsirelos lawyer, Russell Bohn, argued that the fee is related to the cost of renting a new car, and in no way hampers access to the courts.
Bohn said his client's Daytona has been in storage to prevent it from being devalued, and because it could not be safely driven in the rain - because the window's still won't close fully.
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