Type of Damages: Full refund of money paid towards price of car, costs, attorney fees
Name of Case: W. and C. Williams v. Daimler Chrysler Corporation Court: Henrico County Circuit Court
Name of Judge: The Honorable Daniel T. Balfour
Settlement: Last demand was to take the car and agree to payoff the loan which was approximately $15,000 plus pay attorney fees accumulated to that point (estimated to be about $10 -15K at that point). Chrysler refused, offered the client $5K while keeping the car.
Jury Award: $55,028.59
Breakdown: $33,829.76 for payments made to date, payoff of the lien and court costs; $23,250.00 in attorney’s fees (a compromised amount agreed upon by the parties), minus $2,051.17 for mileage. Plaintiff returned the vehicle.
Attorney for Plaintiffs: John Cole Gayle, Jr.
Other Useful Information:
This vehicle, a 2002 Jeep Liberty, resided in the Tidewater area and was used by Mr. Williams primarily for commuting. Plaintiffs first consulted counsel in March, 2003, when the Jeep had about 50,000 miles on it, but by the time of trial, in June 2004, it had over 90,000 miles. Counsel knew a car with 50,000K miles was a risk, but decided to take the case anyway.
Mrs. Williams refused to drive it after it was purchased for her since she alleged the speedometer and odometer would fluctuate wildly on occasion, and the air bag light coming on scared her. Both plaintiffs alleged that at times the engine ran rough, there was a banging and clanging noise in the engine, the engine would stall out, the engine light would come on, and the air bag light would come on for a while then go out. Some of these problems began with the purchase of the car, and, despite numerous repair attempts both before the warranty expired and afterwards, some of the problems continued to exist up to the present mileage of 90,000 miles.
At trial, the only problem that Mr. Williams' the primary driver, testified to experiencing was the engine banging and air bag light coming on; however, Mrs. Williams claimed the electrical problems continued to exist. Chrysler’s expert could find nothing wrong with the vehicle. No expert for plaintiffs testified at the trial.
Shortly before trial Chrysler moved for a continuance since its expert could not appear in person, to which counsel for the plaintiffs objected, which motion was denied. Prior to trial, the court granted DaimlerChryler’s motion that any repairs made to the vehicle after the warranty ran out at 36,000 miles would not be admissible at trial. The courts also ruled on a motion by the plaintiffs’ counsel that, since no repair after warranty expiration at 36K miles was admissible, whatever happened to the vehicle after 36k miles, including the current mileage , would not be relevant and thus was not admissible. The court also ruled that the Lemon Law’s remedies are mandatory, and thus the jury’s only decision was that of liability. If the jury found the Lemon Law had been violated, then the remedy would be imposed by the court, along with a determination of what the reasonable attorney fees and costs would be. The trial lasted one day, and the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs.