Consumer Groups Seek Walker Veto of Bill to Gut Wisconsin Lemon Law: Sour Deal for Wisconsin Car Buyers - 12/13/13
December 13, 2013
Governor Scott Walker
115 East Capitol
Madison, WI 53702
Re: REQUEST FOR VETO OF AB 200 – GUTS WISCONSIN LEMON LAW
Dear Governor Walker,
We write to you today regarding Assembly Bill 200 (AB200), which would amend
Wisconsin’s Lemon Law. The Center for Auto Safety (“CAS”) and Consumers for Auto Reliability and
Safety (CARS) have long advocated for strong lemon laws that protect consumers from financial and
safety risks posed by vehicles that do not conform to manufacturer warranties.
Of particular concern in Assembly Bill 200 is Section 12 of the Bill, which halves both the
statute of limitations and damages provisions of the current statute. Under Wisconsin's current law,
consumers have a period of 6 years from vehicle delivery to file a lemon law claim and seek a refund.
AB200 reduces this period to 3 years – regardless how long the warranty is. This eviscerates important
protections for new car buyers, who will lose state lemon law protection, even if they bought the car
because the manufacturer advertised and promoted it as having a 10-year warranty.
This drastically anti-consumer provision also essentially eliminates a chance for recovery
for consumers who are strung along by automobile manufacturers who seek to stick car buyers with
seriously defective vehicles.
Additionally, the current Wisconsin Lemon Law provides for double damages as an
incentive for manufacturers to comply with the law. This provides a vitally important incentive for
manufacturers to make millions of dollars in investments to ensure quality manufacturing, produce
repair parts, develop and manufacture diagnostic equipment, establish distribution centers, provide
mechanic training, and provide a timely process for resolving disputes, that benefits all Wisconsin car
Other states already have stronger incentives for compliance. For example, North Carolina
has a mandatory treble damage provision. As U.S. District Court of Appeals Judge and Bush
Appointee Janice Rogers Brown opined in an important appellate case, Jensen v. BMW, the penalty
provision is absolutely necessary in order to provide any incentive for auto manufacturers to comply
with the lemon law. If enacted, AB200 will remove any incentive for auto manufacturers to comply
with Wisconsin's Lemon Law.
Instead, Manufacturers who fail to comply with the new law would be able to stall and
delay, and fail to honor their warranties, with impunity. Auto companies know all too well that most
consumers desperately need a safe, reliable vehicle, and many will give up and trade in their lemon at a
substantial loss, hoping the next vehicle they buy is not a lemon. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Not only will this harm new car buyers, but it will also mean that more unsafe, seriously
defective lemons are resold under the radar to unsuspecting used car buyers, without being repaired, or
having their titles branded as lemons.
We urge you to stand up to the auto manufacturers who backed AB 200 and for the millions of
Wisconsin consumers who deserve to get what they bargained for, and veto AB200.
Center for Auto Safety
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety