Richmond, Va., September 5, 2008 - A Henrico County Circuit Court jury issued a verdict that Chrysler L.L.C., violated Virginia’s Lemon Law. The Plaintiff’s 2006 Jeep Commander had a bad odor from the a/c and heating vents causing the plaintiff serious nosebleeds and exacerbation of her allergies. The Plaintiff’s husband and several other people that rode in the car also complained of various ailments, such as light headedness, sinus drainage, and upper respiratory problems. Chrysler initially tried to fix the complaint of a "musty smell" or bad odor coming from the vehicle’s dash vents by cleaning it with chemicals, but then, according to the Plaintiffs, the chemical treatment caused such a bad odor, that it resulted in respiratory problems and the Plaintiff refused to drive it. Chrysler and its expert claimed the problem had been corrected and that there was no abnormal odor in the vehicle at any time during its inspections.
After two years of litigation, the Henrico jury found that Chrysler LLC had violated the Virginia Lemon Law and that it had to reimburse the Plaintiffs for all lease payments made to date, in the amount of $11,898.09, plus $2000 for their trade in, plus $1,613.91 for rental charges, plus $2,777.50 for the extra mileage they put on a substitute vehicle, plus payoff Chrysler Financial the remaining balance due on the lease, but that Chrysler was entitled to $986.27 for the mileage put on the Jeep Commander up to the date of the first notice of the problem to the Chrysler. Under the Lemon Law Chrysler was responsible for the Plaintiffs’ reasonable legal and expert fees, which, by agreement was to be heard in a separate, bifurcated hearing in front of trial judge on a later date if they were contested.
Chrysler did not agree that the trial fees of $69,000 were reasonable, and initially offered to pay $45,825.00. The disagreements continued, with fees continuing to increase. Chrysler’s attorney offered his "full authority" of $60,000, Plaintiffs’ countered with a final offer of $65,000, which was rejected. Plaintiffs’ filed their Motion For Expert and Legal Fees, and requested $76,680.00 in legal fees, plus their expert fees of about $4,000.00. Further negotiations continued, with Chrysler eventually agreeing to pay $75,250.00 for the fees and costs within thirty days, in addition to the jury award. These fees were paid on December 17, 2008.
John Cole Gayle, Jr., of The Consumer Law Group, P.C., in Richmond, Va., noted the fees incurred were avoidable since the Plaintiffs had offered to accept another comparable vehicle, an offer Chrysler not only rejected, but in when he asked if Chrysler wanted to settle, Chrysler’s attorney said, "John, that ship sailed long ago", but I will accept a nonsuit." Mr. Gayle estimates that this two year battle over a $30,000 Jeep cost Chrysler between $125,000.00 to $200,000.