Although Kia resisted buying back a client's vehicle under the Virginia Lemon Law, Attorney John Cole Gayle, Jr. of The Consumer Law Group, P.C. successfuly advocated for his client in front of judge and jury in Henrico County Circuit Court to compel the car manufacture Kia to buy back the vehicle.
As a result of Attorney Gayle's representation, his client obtained a full refund of the vehicle under the Virginia Lemon Law, plus court costs, legal fees, and interest.
In all, the client and The Consumer Law Group, P.C. were awarded approximately $74,000 plus legal interest for the purchase price, collateral charges, and legal fees. The client was awarded about $20,000 in damages and $54,000 in legal fees.
More details, below.
The plaintiffs purchased the 2019 Kia Soul from West Broad VW Kia in November 2019. Within a couple of months, after purchase, the plaintiff noticed a significant condensation forming on the inside of the front windshield when parked overnight that required a towel to mop up in the morning. None of the other vehicles parked in the same area displayed the same behavior.
On nights when the temperature dropped below freezing, plaintiffs woke up to discover the interior of the windshield, inside the car, was covered with condensation and ice. In order to be able to see well enough through their windshield to drive safely, the plaintiff was compelled on those mornings to run the vehicle for at least 15 mintues, running the defroster, and scraping the ice off from the inside.
This was a significant yet intermittent problem. The plaintiff took the car to the authorized Kia dealer on multiple occassions. Despite presenting evidence of the problem such as video and pictures and even bringing the vehicle with the problem present, the dealer was unable to replicate the problem and could not find the cause. The plaintiff suggested replacing the windshield, since that was the only area icing up, but Kia would not approve that repair since the condition could not be reproduced at the dealer. In addition, Kia refused to buy back the vehicle.
In addition to bringing the vehicle to get repaired at a Kia dealership, the plaintiff also sought resolution through arbitration with the BBB. Arbitration, which was non-binding, also lead to a denial of a buyback.
Ultimately, the plaintiffs, represented by Attorney John Cole Gayle, Jr. of The Consumer Law Group, P.C., filed suit against Kia for violating the Virginia Lemon Law. The suit stated that the condition of the vehicle significantly impaired the vehicle's use and value. In addition, Kia had not fixed the issue after a reasonable number of repair attempts within the Virginia Lemon Law Rights Period. The problem continued to occur, intermittently, after the last repair attempt and after the suit was filed.
Kia's Field Technical Specialist inspected the vehicle and found nothing wrong with it that might cause the condensation/icing problem, even suggesting that perhaps it was the plaintiff's fault. Kia's primary defense was that, since it could find a source for a leak or a cause of the problem, there was not enough evidene indicating a Kia part or design was defective and thus it was not obligated to make further repairs or provide a buyback.
After the case was filed and a few months before the actual trial, a rock hit the vehicle's windshield, cracking it. It was replaced by the plaintiff's insurance proceeds, and the icing/condensation problem never returned. Kia wanted to use this evidence to prove that the problem no longer existed, since the Virginia Lemon Law does require a current problem to exist. However, the trial court granted the plaintiff's Motion in Limine that this repair could not be brought up at trial since eventual repair of a defect after the expiration fo the Lemon Law Rights Period is irrelevant to whether the manufacturer failed to repair the defect or provide a refund within the Lemon Law Rights period.
Therefore the case proceeded to trial.
The plaintiff's expert apraiser explained the defect would reduce the value of the car's resale by approximately $3,000. Plantiff's also testified about their experience, sharing their multiple, unsuccessful efforts to repair the vehicle as well as their attempt at resolving the problem with arbitration.
Kia called their expert to testify that his inspection showed no defect in the car, and, in his opinion, the problem did not significantly impair the vehicle use. However, due to cross examination by Attorney John Cole Gayle, Jr., Kia's expert did admit that the problem was significant.
Ultimately the judge and jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs under the Virginia Lemon Law. Plaintiffs were awarded damages including full purchase price, all "collateral charges," and expert fees in the amount of $20,373.39. The jury also awarded The Consumer Law Group, P.C. legal fees.
If you own a vehicle that is 18 months or younger from when the first owner bought the vehicle and the vehicle has a current, significant issue, please call The Consumer Law Group, P.C. at 804-282-7900 to talk to someone on our Intake Team.