Information Surrounding Lemon Cases
One of the questions we get the most at Goldsmith West, whether from clients or friends and family, is: Who makes the most lemons?
We have been monitoring the lemon cases filed against auto manufacturers in the Central District of the Los Angeles County Superior Court (i.e., the Stanley Mosk Courthouse) for the past year. This is just one courthouse within one county in Los Angeles, though it perhaps may be the largest single courthouse for lemon law litigation in California and the United States. The rankings and numbers listed further below are taken from the data we have collected.
Lemon Cases by Statistics
There are a lot of factors that go into tracking lemon law statistics, and some disclaimers need to be made. These numbers come from litigated lemon cases that have appeared in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. A portion of these cases may involve issues other than lemon law. However, by and large, they are lemon cases. Furthermore, there is a portion of lemon law cases filed at the courthouse that are omitted from this list, because the first named defendant is a dealership or finance company, not a manufacturer.
Another key factor to consider when reading these statistics is that they are based purely on lemon vehicle lawsuits. They do not factor in lemon law demands where the manufacturer resolved the matter without the need for a lawsuit.
You must consider that a manufacturer may have a relatively high rate of defects but also a customer service process that resolves cases before they become lawsuits. By contrast, a manufacturer may have a relatively low rate of defects for its vehicles, but it may deny and defend against lemon law claims so aggressively that it finds itself in court considerably more often than other manufacturers. However, there is no automotive brand that is completely without defects or lemon law claims.
2017 Lemon Case Statistics
Here is what the information we collected for 2017 shows:
- There were over 3,000 separate lemon law cases, with at least one calendared date at the courthouse in 2017.
- There were over 4,500 total lemon law appearances at the courthouse in 2017
- The top three vehicle brands for lemon law appearances are Ford, General Motors (GM), and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). The big three American brands (if Fiat Chrysler can be categorized as one) had the most lemon law case appearances. However, Ford led the way by far.
- Top 3 brands for lemon law appearances, per 2016 market share are BMW, Nissan and Mercedes. When adjusted for market share, these brands stand out as having the highest rate of lemon law case appearances. Many of these vehicles are not 2016 calendar year purchases or 2016 model year; however, market share did not radically change over the several preceding years.
In fair play, it should be noted that some brands have a comparatively low lemon law case appearance rate, relative to volume of vehicles produced. Brands that stand out as having low lemon law case rates are Toyota, Volkswagen Group, and Subaru.
Every vehicle brand has lemons, and every brand has its process for handling them. However, regardless of a manufacturer’s process for handling lemon claims and vehicle lawsuits, it is generally in a consumer’s best interest to consult an experienced lemon law firm before accepting a conclusion for his or her case. If you need help sorting out the facts of a potential lemon case, please contact Goldsmith West today to schedule a free consultation.