Lemon Law Protection for Pennsylvania Motorcycle and RV Owners
Attorneys Jacqueline Herritt & Louis Dobi Testify at Public Hearings on House Bills 1624 and 2591
HARRISBURG, Pa. (August, 2004) – Attorneys and automobile consumer advocates Jacqueline Herritt and Louis Dobi, from the firm of Kimmel & Silverman, commended the Consumer Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives last week during public hearings to discuss House Bills 1624 and 2591.
House Bill 1624, sponsored by Rep. John Fichter (R-District 70, Montgomery County), will provide Lemon Law protection to motorcycle drivers across the Commonwealth and House Bill 2591, sponsored by Rep. Ted Harhai (D-District 58, Westmoreland/Fayette Counties) would protect recreational vehicle (RV) owners. With offices in Ambler, PA and Pittsburgh, PA, Kimmel & Silverman has provided cost-free legal help to more than 30,000 drivers over the past thirteen years.
According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, 95,752 new motorcycles were purchased in Pennsylvania between 2000 and 2003, with sales rising 29% over that period. A growing number of consumers are being denied consumer protection under the State's Lemon Law, even though twenty-five other states have already included motorcycles in their State statutes.
"With fuel costs at an all time high, motorcycles provide a fuel-efficient, but not necessarily cheaper, alternative to automobiles." Says Attorney Herritt, attributing the growth.
According to Herritt, adding to the concerns of advocates, is the emergence of dozens of volume custom manufacturers, inspired by popular television shows such as 'American Chopper', that are making their way onto Pennsylvania streets. "Consumers who purchase these should be entitled to the same protections, and if necessary remedies that the drivers of automobiles enjoy currently in Pennsylvania."
Under the existing PA Lemon Law, lessees and purchasers of new cars which suffer a non-conformity in the first twelve months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, are protected if their defect is not fixed after three repair attempts.
Also speaking in favor of House Bill 1624 were Irme Szauter of the American Motorcyclists Association and Charles Umbenhauser of American Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education (ABATE).
Representative Harhai devised House Bill 2591, to provide Lemon Law protection to the State's Recreational Vehicle (RV) drivers, as a result of a chance meeting with Westmoreland County resident Robert Igoe. Mr. & Mrs. Igoe had purchased an RV with the intention of traveling the Country following their retirement. After suffering numerous repairs, they sued the manufacturer through a local attorney and ended up settling and getting rid of the RV, losing over $90,000 in the process. Mr. Igoe came to Harrisburg to share his story with committee members.
Louis M. Dobi, a consumer advocate who has handled RV cases in the past, feels the time is right for this expansion. "These vehicles, which can cost over $100,000, constitute a major investment for most consumers."
This new Bill would make the manufacturer overall responsible for the product and for insuring the customer receives efficient and effective warranty repairs. "RV's are usually comprised of many components, each manufactured and warranted by a different company,' Attorney Dobi explains. "Unfortunately, when these products fail, they often sit on dealer lots for considerable lengths of time before they are fixed, while service personnel try to determine which warrantors are responsible for particular problems, and are often shipped to different states."
Attorney Dobi feels that there are many benefits to House Bill 2591, including providing manufacturers with tighter time constraints for warranty repair; establishing accountability with the manufacturer who markets and sells the RV when the warranty cannot be enforced; and requiring that Lemon Law/warranty obligations be disclosed to consumers when purchasing their RV.
Under both House Bills, there would be mandatory title branding, insuring that consumers of used motorcycles and RVs are aware if the product they are intending to purchase has a lemon history.
Following the public hearings, the Committee vowed to continue to work on the Bills, using ideas and issues brought up during testimony. Sponsors are hopeful that a version of these Bills will be up for a vote in front of the House this Fall.
Currently, motorcycles and RV owners do have moderate consumer protection under the Federal law known as the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. Under this Act, Kimmel & Silverman represents Commonwealth consumers at no cost. For more information on these consumer rights and the possible expansion, contact Kimmel and Silverman 1-800-LEMON-LAW.