CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE.
Jury finds in favor of Mazda in warranty lawsuit
After six days of trial, and 1¾ hours of deliberations, an Orange County jury returned a 10-2 verdict in favor of Mazda Motor of America, Inc. on plaintiff Monica Huchro’s Song-Beverly cause of action. The jury later explained their findings that usage was not substantially impaired because plaintiff drove her vehicle over 40,000 miles, that safety was not substantially impaired because plaintiff could pick safe gas stations to fuel up, and that value was not substantially impaired to an average person.
Plaintiff claimed she experienced a stuck fuel lid door beginning the day after she leased a 2001 Mazda Miata. In addition, plaintiff claimed that significant leakage occurred in her convertible top while she drove in rainstorms and that her left shoulder, arm and leg would get wet. She claimed that this water infiltration occurred regularly and that her carpets were now moldy.
During cross-examination, plaintiff admitted to the jury she was immediately advised by Selma Mazda when her fuel lid stuck for the first time, that she could simply hit on the lid and get it open. Plaintiff further admitted that once she started complaining about these items, she didn’t want the vehicle repaired, she simply wanted it repurchased.
Regarding the convertible top, Mazda’s defense attorney focused on the documentary evidence which showed no visits for defective weather-stripping or a leaking convertible top. Further, the defense showed her garden-hose water test was not relevant given the Owner Manual’s warning that leakage could be expected if water was sprayed directly on the area where the window glass and convertible top meet.
Finally, the defense argued that the lemon law required “substantial impairment” for a reason, that Mazda mechanics, consumer compliance specialists and experts did their jobs professionally, that Lithia Mazda’s field fix worked, that defective weather-stripping and/or a leaking convertible top was never presented for repair, and that plaintiff’s continued usage of the vehicle over time showed there was nothing wrong with the vehicle that substantially impaired its use, value or safety.
Experts for defense -- Don Fuller and Roger Tarver
Attorneys for plaintiff – Lawrence Hutchens, Esq. of Bellflower, CA
Attorneys for defense – Monica Kelly, Esq. of Bowman and Brooke LLP, Minneapolis, MN and Brian Takahashi, Esq. of Bowman and Brooke LLP, Los Angeles, CA.