Defense Verdict in California Lemon Law Trial for Automobile Manufacturer

April 8, 2019 – Media Coverage

April 8, 2019 (Sacramento, CA) – Hawkins Parnell & Young secured a complete defense verdict in a lemon law case for a major manufacturer of automobiles in the Superior Court of California for Placer County. Jeffrey Thayer and Elizabeth Branham represented the defendant as lead trial counsel.

In this case involving a midsize SUV, Plaintiff alleged breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, and fraud-concealment. Plaintiff sought punitive damages for the fraud-concealment claim. The claims posed significant risk, particularly because the judge admitted into evidence, over objection, several internal documents that discussed problems with the alleged defective component and indicated that management may have been involved in some discussions surrounding the issue. Additionally, Plaintiff’s expert testified about possible applicability of an emissions warranty, which was different from his deposition testimony.

Jeff and Liz countered all claims against HPY’s client. The defense chipped away at the evidence in the fraud-concealment claims, dispensing of punitive damages via non-suit at the close of Plaintiff’s evidence. The team was also able to react quickly to the unexpected testimony by providing testimony from their witness and convincing the jury that this issue was a “red herring” and that plaintiff did not actually have a viable warranty claim.

The jury deliberated for less than four hours before returning a complete verdict. The five-day trial was before the Honorable Mark S. Curry.

Plaintiff was represented by Knight Law Group and Hackler Daghighian Martino & Novak. Plaintiff’s testifying expert in forensic mechanical failure was Thomas Lepper, CFEI, CVFI.

Testifying on behalf of the defendant was Stan Gozzi, an automotive mechanical expert.