Maine Lemon Law

Maine Revised Statutes Annotated, Tit. 10, §§1161-1169

1161 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context indicates otherwise, the following terms have the following meanings.

1. Consumer.
"Consumer" means the purchaser, other than for purposes of resale, or
the lessee, of a motor vehicle, any person to whom the motor vehicle is
transferred during the duration of an express warranty applicable to
the motor vehicle and any other person entitled by the terms of the
warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty, except that the
term "consumer" shall not include any governmental entity, or any
business or commercial enterprise which registers three or more motor
vehicles.

2. Manufacturer.
"Manufacturer" means manufacturer, importer, distributor or anyone who
is named as the warrantor on an express written warranty on a motor
vehicle.

3. Motor Vehicle.
"Motor vehicle" means any motor driven vehicle, designed for the
conveyance of passengers or property on the public highways, which is
sold or leased in this State, except that the term “motor vehicle” does
not include any vehicle used primarily for commercial purposes with a
gross vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or more.

4. Reasonable allowance for use. "Reasonable allowance for use" means an amount that can not exceed the lesser of
1/3 of that amount allowed per mile by the United States Internal Revenue
Service as provided by regulation, revenue procedure or revenue ruling
promulgated under the United States Internal Revenue Code, Title 26, Section 162
for the use of a personal vehicle for business purposes based upon the mileage
reported for that motor vehicle on the application for state-certified
arbitration accepted by the State plus all mileage directly attributable to use
by a consumer beyond 20,000 miles or 10% of the purchase price of the vehicle.

5. State-certified
arbitration. "State-certified arbitration" means the informal dispute
settlement procedure administered by the Department of the Attorney
General which arbitrates consumer complaints dealing with new motor
vehicles that may be so defective as to qualify for equitable relief
under the Maine lemon laws.

1162 Scope; construction.

1. Consumer Rights.
Nothing in this chapter in any way limits the rights or remedies which
are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.

2. Manufacturers, distributors, agents and dealers. Nothing in this chapter in any way limits the rights or remedies of franchisees under chapter 204 or other applicable law.

3. Waivers void.
Any agreement entered into by a consumer which waives, limits or
disclaims the rights set forth in this chapter shall be void as
contrary to public policy.

1163 Rights and duties.

1. Repair of nonconformities.
If a motor vehicle does not conform to all express warranties, the
manufacturer, its agent or authorized dealer shall make those repairs
necessary to conform the vehicle to the express warranties if the
consumer reports the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agent or
authorized dealer during the term of the express warranties, within a
period of 3 years following the date of original delivery of the motor
vehicle to a consumer, or during the first 18,000 miles of operation,
whichever occurs earliest. This obligation exists notwithstanding the
fact that the repairs are made after the expiration of the appropriate
time period.

2. Failure to make effective repair.
If the manufacturer or its agents or authorized dealers are unable to
conform the motor vehicle to any applicable express warranty by
repairing or correcting any defect or condition, or combination of
defects or conditions, which substantially impairs the use, safety or
value of the motor vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, the
manufacturer shall either replace the motor vehicle with a comparable
new motor vehicle or accept return of the vehicle from the consumer and
make a refund to the consumer and lien holder, if any, as their
interests may appear. The consumer may reject any offered replacement
and receive instead a refund. The refund shall consist of the following
items, less a reasonable allowance for use of the vehicle:
A.
The full purchase price or, if a leased vehicle, the lease payments
made to date, including any paid finance charges on the purchased or
leased vehicle;
B. All collateral charges, including, but not limited to, sales tax, registration fees and similar government charges; and
C.
Reasonable costs incurred by the consumer for towing and storage of the
vehicle and for procuring alternative transportation while the vehicle could not be driven because it did not conform to any applicable
express warranty.

The
provisions of this section shall not affect the obligations of a
consumer under a loan or sales contract or the secured interest of any
secured party. The secured party shall consent to the replacement of
the security interest with a corresponding security interest on a
replacement motor vehicle which is accepted by the consumer in exchange
for the motor vehicle, if the replacement motor vehicle is comparable
in value to the original motor vehicle. If, for any reason, the
security interest in the new motor vehicle having a defect or condition
is not able to be replaced with a corresponding security interest on a
motor vehicle accepted by the consumer, the consumer is entitled to a
refund. Refunds required under this section must be made to the
consumer and the secured party, if any, as their interests exist at the
time the refund is to be made. Similarly, refunds to a lessor and
lessee shall be made as their interests exist at the time the refund is
to be made.

3. Reasonable number of attempts; presumption.
There is a presumption that a reasonable number of attempts have been
undertaken to conform a motor vehicle to the applicable express
warranties if:
A-1. The same nonconformity
has been subject to repair 3 or more times by the manufacturer or its
agents or authorized dealers within the express warranty term, during
the period of 3 years following the date of original delivery of the
motor vehicle to a consumer or during the first 18,000 miles of
operation of that motor vehicle, whichever occurs earliest, and the nonconformity continues to exist;
A-2. The same nonconformity has resulted in a serious failure of either the braking or
steering systems in the vehicle and has been subject to a repair attempt one or
more times by the manufacturer or its agents or authorized dealers during the
warranty term or the appropriate time period, whichever occurs earlier; or
B.
The vehicle is out of service by reason of a repair attempt by the
manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealer, of any defect or
condition or combination of defects for a cumulative total of 15 or
more business days during that warranty term or the appropriate time
period, whichever occurs earlier.

3-A. Final opportunity to repair.
If the manufacturer or his agents have been unable to make the repairs
necessary to conform the vehicle to the express warranties, the
consumer shall notify, in writing, the manufacturer or the authorized
dealer of the consumer’s desire for a refund or
replacement. For the seven business days following receipt by the
dealer or the manufacturer of this notice, the manufacturer shall have
a final opportunity to correct or repair any nonconformities. This
final repair shall be at a repair facility that is reasonably
accessible to the consumer. This repair effort shall not stay the time
period within which the manufacturer must provide an arbitration
hearing pursuant to 1165.

4. Time limit; extension. The term of an express warranty, the 18,000 mileage term, the 3-year period
following delivery and the 15-day period provided in subsection 3, paragraph B,
must be extended by any period of time during which repair services are not
available to the consumer because of a war, invasion or strike or fire, flood or
other natural disaster.

5. Dealer liability.
Nothing in this chapter may be construed as imposing any liability on a
dealer or creating a cause of action by a consumer against a dealer
under this section, except regarding any written express warranties
made by the dealer apart from the manufacturer’s own warranties.

6. Disclosure of notice requirement.
No consumer may be required to notify the manufacturer of a claim under
this section, unless the manufacturer has clearly and conspicuously
disclosed to the consumer, in the warranty or owner’s manual, that
written notification of the nonconformity is required before the
consumer may be eligible for a refund or replacement of the vehicle.
The manufacturer shall include with the warranty or owner’s manual the
name and address to which the consumer shall send the written
notification.

6-A. Notification of Dealer.
Consumers may also satisfy a manufacturer’s notice requirement by
notifying in writing the authorized dealer of a claim under this
section. The dealer shall act as the manufacturer’s agent and
immediately communicate to the manufacturer the consumer’s claim.

7. Disclosure at time of resale.
A motor vehicle which is returned to the manufacturer under subsection
2, may not be resold without clear and conspicuous written disclosure
to any subsequent purchaser, whether that purchaser is a consumer or a
dealer, of the following information:
A. That the motor vehicle was returned to the manufacturer under this chapter;
B. That the motor vehicle did not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranties; and
C. The ways in which the motor vehicle did not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranties.

8. Disclosure at time of retail sale under settlement
agreement.
A motor vehicle that is surrendered to a manufacturer as
a result of a settlement of a state-certified arbitration must, at the time that
motor vehicle is first offered for retail sale to the public, be affixed with a
clear and conspicuous written disclosure stating that the vehicle was the
subject of a Maine Lemon Law settlement agreement. 

1164 Affirmative defense.

It is an affirmative defense to any claim under this chapter that:

1. Lack of impairment. An alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use, safety or value of the motor vehicle; or

2. Abuse.
A nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized
modifications or alterations of a motor vehicle by anyone other than
the manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealers since delivery to
the consumer.

1165 Informal dispute settlement.

If
a manufacturer has established an informal dispute settlement procedure
which complies in all respects with the provisions of 16 CFR, Part 703,
as from time to time amended, the provisions of section 1163,
subsection 2, concerning refunds or replacement shall not apply to any
consumer who has not first resorted to that procedure or to
state-certified arbitration. This requirement shall be satisfied 40
days after notification to the informal dispute settlement procedure of
the dispute or when the procedure’s duties under 16 CFR, Part 703.5(d)
are completed, whichever occurs sooner.

1166 Unfair or deceptive trade practice.

A
violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall be considered
prima facie evidence of an unfair or deceptive trade practice under
Title 5, chapter 10.

1167 Attorney’s fees.

In
the case of a consumer’s successful action to enforce any liability
under this chapter, a court may award reasonable attorney’s fees and
costs incurred.

1168 New car leases.

For the purposes of this chapter only, the following apply to leases of new motor vehicles.

1. Warranties. If express warranties are regularly furnished to purchasers of substantially the same kind of motor vehicles:

A. Those warranties are deemed to apply to the leased motor vehicles; and

B.
The consumer lessee is deemed to be the first purchaser of the motor
vehicle for the purpose of any warranty provisions limiting warranty
benefits to the original purchaser.

2. Lessee’s rights.
The lessee of a motor vehicle has the same rights under this chapter
against the manufacturer and any person making express warranties that
the lessee would have under this chapter if the vehicle had been
purchased by the lessee. The manufacturer and any person making express
warranties have the same duties and obligations under this chapter with
respect to the vehicle that the manufacturer and other person would
have under this chapter if the goods had been sold to the lessee.

3. Termination of lease and obligations.
The lessee’s lease agreement with the motor vehicle lessor and all contractual
obligations terminate upon a decision that the vehicle does not conform to the
vehicle’s express warranty and the return of the vehicle to the lessor. The
lessee may not be liable to the manufacturer or motor vehicle lessor for any
further costs or charges under the lease agreement. The motor vehicle lessor
shall release the motor vehicle title to the manufacturer upon payment by the
manufacturer under this chapter.

1169 State-certified, new car arbitration.

1. Neutral motor vehicle arbitration. All manufacturers shall submit to state-certified motor vehicle arbitration if
arbitration is requested by the consumer within 3 years from the date of
original delivery to the consumer of a motor vehicle or within the term of the
express warranties, whichever comes first, and the State has accepted the
application as making proper Maine Lemon Law claims. State-certified arbitration
must be performed by one or more neutral arbitrators selected by the Department
of the Attorney General operating in accordance with the rules adopted pursuant
to this chapter. The Attorney General may contract with an independent entity to
provide arbitration or the Attorney General’s office may appoint neutral
arbitrators. Each party to an arbitration is entitled to one rejection of a
proposed arbitrator.

2. Written findings.
Each arbitration results in a written finding of whether the motor
vehicle in dispute meets the standards set forth by this chapter for
vehicles that are required to be replaced or refunded. This finding
shall be issued within 45 days of receipt by the Department of the
Attorney General of a properly completed written request by a consumer
for state-certified arbitration under this section. All findings of
fact issuing from a state-certified arbitration must be taken as
admissible evidence of whether the standards set forth in this chapter
for vehicles required to be refunded or replaced have been met in any
subsequent action brought by either party ensuing from the matter
considered in the arbitration. The finding reporting date may be
extended by 5 days if the arbitrator seeks an independent evaluation of
the motor vehicle. In addition to the other remedies provided by this chapter, the arbitrator may
award a consumer whose motor vehicle is required to be replaced or refunded
reasonable witness fees for a professional motor vehicle mechanic or engineer
who prepared a notarized report on the condition of the vehicle or who testified
at the arbitration hearing on behalf of the consumer.

3. Administered by Attorney General.
The Department of the Attorney General shall promulgate rules governing
the proceedings of state-certified arbitration which shall promote
fairness and efficiency. These rules shall include, but are not limited
to, a requirement of the personal objectivity of each arbitrator in the
results of the dispute that that arbitrator will hear, and the
protection of the right of each party to present its case and to be in
attendance during any presentation made by the other party.

4. Consumer arbitration relief.
If a motor vehicle is found by state-certified arbitration to have met
the standards set forth in section 1163, subsection 2, for vehicles
required to be replaced or refunded, and if the manufacturer of the
motor vehicle is found to have failed to provide the refund or
replacement as required, the manufacturer shall, within 21 days from
the receipt of a finding, deliver the refund or replacement, including
the costs and collateral charges set forth in section 1163, subsection
2, or appeal the finding in Superior Court. For good cause, a
manufacturer may seek from the Department of the Attorney General an
extension of the time within which it must deliver to the consumer a
replacement vehicle.

5. Appeal of arbitration decision. An appeal by a manufacturer or the consumer of the arbitrator’s findings may not
be heard unless the petition for appeal is filed with the Superior Court of the
county in which the sale occurred, within 21 days of issuance of the finding of
the state-certified arbitration. The appeal must be a trial de novo. The
arbitrator and the Department of the Attorney General may not be parties in any
such appeal and may not be called as witnesses. The Department of the Attorney
General may submit an amicus curiae brief.

In the event that any state-certified arbitration resulting in an award
of a refund or replacement is upheld by the court, recovery by the consumer may
include continuing damages up to the amount of $25 per day for each day
subsequent to the day the motor vehicle was returned to the manufacturer,
pursuant to section 1163, that the vehicle was out of use as a direct result of
any nonconformity not issuing from owner negligence, accident, vandalism or any
attempt to repair or substantially modify the vehicle by a person other than the
manufacturer, its agent or authorized dealer, provided that the manufacturer did
not make a comparable vehicle available to the consumer free of charge.

In addition to any other recovery, any prevailing consumer must be awarded
reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. If the court finds that the manufacturer
did not have any reasonable basis for its appeal or that the appeal was
frivolous, the court shall double the amount of the total award to the consumer.

6. Consumer’s rights if arbitrator denies relief. The
provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to limit or restrict
in any way the rights or remedies provided to consumers under this
chapter or any other state law. In addition, if any consumer is
dissatisfied with any finding of state-certified arbitration, the
consumer shall have the right to apply to the manufacturer’s informal
dispute settlement procedure, if the consumer has not already done so,
or may appeal that finding to the Superior Court of the county in which
the sale occurred within 21 days of the decision.

7. Disclosure of consumer lemon law rights. A
clear and conspicuous disclosure of the rights of the consumer under
this chapter shall be provided by the manufacturer to the consumer
along with ownership manual materials. The form and manner of these
notices shall be prescribed by rule of the Department of the Attorney
General. The notice disclosures shall not include window stickers.

8. Manufacturer’s failure to abide by arbitrator’s decision.
The failure of a manufacturer either to abide by the decision of
state-certified arbitration or to file a timely appeal shall entitle
any prevailing consumer who has brought an action to enforce this
chapter to an award of no less than 2 times the actual award, unless
the manufacturer can prove that the failure was beyond the
manufacturer’s control or can show it was the result of a written
agreement with the consumer.

9. Consumer request for information.
Upon request from the consumer, the manufacturer or dealer shall
provide a copy of all repair records for the consumer’s motor vehicle
and all reports relating to that motor vehicle, including reports by
the dealer or manufacturer concerning inspection, diagnosis or
test-drives of that vehicle and any technical reports, bulletins or
notices issued by the manufacturer regarding the specific make and
model of the consumer’s new motor vehicle as it pertains to any
material, feature, component or the performance of the motor vehicle.

 10. Penalties.
It shall be prima facie evidence of an unfair trade practice under
Title 5, chapter 10, for a manufacturer, within 21 days of receipt of
any finding in favor of the consumer in state-certified arbitration, to
fail to appeal the finding and not deliver a refund or replacement
vehicle or not receive from the Department of the Attorney General an
extension of time for delivery of the replacement vehicle.

11.
Arbitration and mediation account. To defray the costs incurred by the Department of the Attorney General in
resolving consumer new and used motor vehicle disputes through the lemon law
arbitration program and, for vehicles that do not qualify for arbitration, the
consumer mediation service, the following fees are imposed.

A. A $1 lemon law arbitration program fee must be collected by the
authorized new car dealer from the purchaser as part of each new motor vehicle
sale agreement.

B. A $1 consumer mediation service fee must be collected by the used car
dealer from the purchaser as part of each used motor vehicle sale
agreement

The Secretary of State shall adopt rules to implement this subsection.
The rules must provide that the fees imposed by this subsection must be
forwarded annually by the dealer or its successor to the Secretary of State and
deposited in the General Fund. At the end of each fiscal year, the Department of
the Attorney General shall prepare a report listing the money generated by these
fees during the fiscal year and the expenses incurred in administering its
consumer dispute resolution programs.