Know Your Rights

Appellate Court Upholds Consumer's Verdict Against Ford

In August of 2008, Charles Keatts purchased a brand new Ford Explorer from Crain Ford in Little Rock, Arkansas.  The vehicle was a lemon.  Throughout the initial bumper-to-bumper warranty period, the vehicle was in the shop for multiple attempts to repair water leaks that seemed to drip from under the dash near the gas pedal.  Ford could not detect or repair the problem despite repeated attempts. 
Mr. Keats hired SmithMarco, P.C. to pursue his lemon law claims in court.  The matter went to trial and after nearly a week of testimony, it only took the jury about an hour to find for Mr. Keats, and award him the entire purchase price of the vehicle - over $30,000.  Ford appealed. 
Ford claimed that Mr. Keats was supposed to take his claims to the Better Business Bureau before he filed his lawsuit in court.  Ford had an informal dispute resolution procedure (IDSP) that was part of the warranty booklet that required all consumers to put their claims to the BBB first.  However, the IDSP that Ford included did not provide for all the same remedies that Keatts could have obtained in a court of law.  A vehicle manufacturer cannot force a consumer into a dispute forum that does not provide all the same remedies that the lemon law itself allows.  Ford's IDSP provided that if Keatts were to prevail, he would be entitled to a comparable vehicle but it did not have to be a vehicle that Keatts necessarily approved.  The vehicle need only be "reasonably equivalent" to the replaced vehicle.  Thus, Ford could put Keatts in a "take-it-or-leave-it position - with perhaps a vehicle of a different color, with different add-ons, tires, rims, interior, etc.  
The appellate court found in Mr. Keatts favor and affirmed the trial court's position.  Ford's IDSP did not comply with the lemon law, and did not provide the consumer all the remedies that the Arkansas lemon law provided.  Mr. Keatts verdict has been upheld.  SmithMarco is a consumer rights firm that handles lemon law claims among the various other consumer protection areas.  If your new vehicle is not functioning properly, and you are forced to endure multiple repair attempts, contact us and we will provide a free case review

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