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Post date: February 10 1999

Ag's Report Affirms Merit Of State Lemon Law

Attorney General Spitzer today issued the annual reports on the State's New and Used Car "Lemon Laws," which document a remarkable rate of consumer success.

"Once again, the lemon law has proven itself to be perhaps the most useful tool for consumers in their disputes with car manufacturers," Spitzer said. "In the past 12 years, this program has been highly regarded by consumer groups and auto representatives alike for its fair and efficient dispute resolution process. By allowing consumers an alternative to filing a lawsuit, the lemon law has effectively empowered individuals to enforce the obligations made in car warranties."

In 1998, more than $9.5 million was recovered by consumers who claimed their new cars were lemons, and nearly $675,000 was awarded to consumers who had problems with used cars. These totals include cash awards, vehicle replacement decisions and out-of-court settlements. Specifically, cash awards to consumers totaled over $4.6 million for new autos and $553,000 for used autos. Nearly one-third of the cases, however, were settled before entering into arbitration totaling over $4.6 million in compensation to consumers. Significantly, consumers prevailed in almost two-thirds of all 1998 cases.

Since the lemon law program began in 1987, more than $148 million has been recovered on behalf of consumers for defective automobiles. Combining awards and settlements, consumers have prevailed in 68% of all new car cases and 63% of used car disputes.

The New York State New and Used Car Lemon Laws provide a legal remedy for consumers who are buyers or lessees of new cars and certain used cars that turn out to be "lemons." All new cars are covered under the program for the first 18,000 miles or two years. Used cars purchased from dealers are covered for the first 1,000 to 4,000 miles or 30 - 90 days after purchase, depending upon the car's mileage when it was bought.

Any consumer interested in finding out more about the New York State Lemon Law or wishing to obtain a copy of the 1998 Annual Report for New York's New and Used Car Lemon Law Arbitration Program, may contact the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 771-7755 or visit our website at http://www.ag.ny.gov/.