Wednesday

Who Makes the Most Lemon Cars?

The myth has for years been that European and Asian cars are made better than the ones that Detroit turns out. That may have been true when your father bought his cars, but not so much anymore.

The auto industry recognized the quality problems it had back in the 1980's and has spent the last two decades rebuilding its quality and its reputation for American-made excellence. It was a hard lesson, sure, and GM and Chrysler felt the worst of it five years ago when they filed for bankruptcy. But they came back.

How can you tell the quality is up for American-built cars? Federal safety investigators track recall statistics and they show that during the last two decades, the quantity of recalls of foreign cars has been going up while the quantity of recalls for US-made cars has been going down. Take a look at the Toyota debacle, for instance, where millions of cars were recalled during the last 5 years of production.

Massive Asian Recalls Getting More Common?
Almost any list of most common lemon cars is topped by Asian manufactured cars anymore, often in the top 3 or 4 spots before any US made car shows up on the list.

We've seen the same thing in our lemon car cases here at Burdge Law Office, where we have concluded that the only reason for the quantity of lemon US cars seems to be the higher quantity of US-made cars being sold.

Still, when you have a lemon it doesn't matter who made it - it's still a headache, a heartache, and a walletache too. So shop carefully and before you buy a new or used car, check with the federal recall website to see what the last few model years of that car have been like. That way you don't waste your money.

Burdge Law Office
Helping people get rid of lemons for more than 25 years.

Aston Martin - We're Too Busy Making Money to Build Safe Cars Too - Give Us a Break!

Side impact crashes injure more often
In 2007 the federal safety agency in charge of setting safety standards for motor vehicles sold in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wanted to protect passengers from side crashes into things like utility poles and trees so they set a new standard for side impact crash protection.

That's because over the last 20 years frontal crashes have gone down while side impact crashes have increased by more than 20%.

Like most new vehicle safety standards, it was argued about and fought over before it finally became law. One of the compromises in the process was that the new law would would not begin to take effect for 3 years and that complete phase-in compliance would not be required for 7 years. So motor vehicle manufacturers had up to 7 years to redesign their cars to add greater side impact protection and comply with the new law. 

Are they too busy making money to build safe cars?
The law was passed in 2007 and was to be complied with by September 1, 2014. Plenty of time to get the job done, right?

So all the manufacturers started working on it and now they all comply. Except one.



Aston Martin, who apparently has been busy building and selling their expensive sports cars, has filed a request to postpone their convertible car model compliance for another 2 and 3 years. And their reason for the requested extension? Being unable to sell the soft-top cars would reduce their new car gross profits.

Buy a 2014 Aston Martin DB9 for just $214,000
The Aston Martin DB9, which carries a $214,000 MSRP, won't comply with federal safety standards until August 2016. The Aston Martin Vantage, with its paltry $126,000 MSRP, won't comply until August 2017.

Meanwhile, Aston Martin saw a 2013 sales jump of 11%, so the cash is certainly flowing.

The world's 8 top auto makers complied with the new safety standard and none of them saw their sales jump 11% in 2013 but Aston Martin did.

Will Money Buy NHTSA's forgiveness?
GM had a 2013 sales drop of 6.3% but it has complied with the new safety standard. VW had a whopping 2013 sales drop of 22.7% but it complied. Hyundai and Kia dropped 2% but they complied. Toyota dropped 1.7% but they complied.

Ford sales only increased by 1.8% but they complied. Honda scrapped by with a 1.9% increase but they complied. Chrysler sales increased 6% and they complied and Nissan, with an increase of 10.5%, complied too.

NHTSA should not reward Aston Martin for its decision to make more money instead of complying with a federal safety standard that they saw coming 7 years ago. They had 7 years to get around to it and instead focused on the almighty buck and big bucks at that. Aston Martin has no excuse. They do make beautiful sports cars, sure. And expensive ones, too. Let's hope that money is not what makes the safety decision at NHTSA on this.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons for more than 25 years.
It's what we do.

Friday

In 31 Weeks, GM Recalls 29 Million Vehicles

Image from KSPR.com
GM issued 5 more recalls today, covering another 269,000 vehicles. That makes a total of 29 million GM vehicles recalled in the first 31 weeks of the year, 219 days so far this year. 

That's roughly 132,420 GM vehicles recalled per day, 7 days a week. How did things get this bad?

GM recalls announced August 8, 2014:

2002, 2003, 2004 Saturn Vue vehicles (202,115), for ignition key cylinder problems that could lead to a crash and injury. These Saturn vehicles join thousands of other GM ignition key cylinder recalls already released.


2013 Buick Encore and 2013 Cadillac ATS vehicles (48,059), because of seat belt system failure dangers that could lead to a failure to hold the occupant in position during an accident. Remember that song by James Taylor with the line that goes "slip, slidding away" ? It's not funny if it's you that is slipping and sliding away during an accident.

2014, 1015 Chevrolet Impala LT and LTZ sedans (14,940), because of latching problems on a passenger storage compartment that, in an accident, could injure occupants. On August 1 GM instructed dealers not to sell the affected vehicles until they are fixed, but we have been told of at least one dealer in Ohio who has ignored such GM orders and sold vehicles that were on the GM "do not sell" list. Parts that fly around the inside of a car in an accident? That's not supposed to happen, obviously.

2009, 2010 Chevrolet Aveo and 2009 Pontiac G3 vehicles (1,966), for brake system problems that can reduce brake system "performance" - in other words, the car won't stop on time and/or right, increasing the risk of a crash and injury. This problem was the subject of a "secret warranty" that started back in 2012 but has now been called a full-blown recall. This could be a deadly defect if your brakes fail just when you need them.


Image Copyright US News
2014 Chevrolet Spark minicars (1,919), because of the danger of loose control arm attaching bolts. This potentially deadly defect is so serious that GM is telling owners NOT to drive their vehicles but to have the car "transported" to the nearest Chevy dealer for inspection and any necessary repair. The control arm is a critical part associated with keeping your front wheels on the car, folks. Not something to mess around with.

One has to wonder how many GM cars are built in one day but at this rate, they appear to be recalling them faster than they can build them.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons, it's what we do.

Monday

Does it look like $3 Million?
Yahoo News is reporting that a gold plated Rv has been sold in the oil-rich country of Dubai for $3,000,000 to an undisclosed buyer.

The double-decker, futuristic design Rv, named EleMMent Pallazzo (that's not a typo), was manufactured by the Austrian builder, Marchi Mobile, and comes with a pop-up rooftop terrace - for the lazy sunshine days in the dessert no doubt - along with a cocktail lounge, fireplace, underfloor heating, and all the luxury extras imaginable. More info can be seen at the YouTube video linked here.

And with a topping out speed somewhere north of 93 mph, it's no slouch on the highway either. And with glow in the dark exterior paint, you can see it flash by in the night darkness too.

Marchi Mobile recently opened a US subsidiary to sell their Rv's here in the states. We will go out on a limb here and bet that it's doubtful if the gold plated version will sell very well here. And Lord (or Allah) help the owner if it turns out to be a lemon.

Meanwhile, if you get a lemon Rv, don't put up with any stalling. Getting rid of your lemon Rv and getting your money back is what we do.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons, everyday.

What happens when you buy a car and never get the title?

You never become the owner, that's what. But you may not be totally stuck because there are laws to protect innocent buyers against crooked and ripoff car dealers. 

Not only will you have lots of legal rights, but selling a car in Ohio and not delivering title can be a criminal act too.

First, let's talk a little about the law and your rights. Then, we'll talk about how to get your money back.

The Law on Car Title Fraud

In Ohio, like most states, the only way a person can have a legal interest in a motor vehicle is if their name is on the vehicle title. Nothing else counts. That means you have to have a title issued in your name to be the vehicle's owner. It also means that you can’t own a car and you can’t legally sell a car without having the title in your name either.
 
If you buy a car and never get title to it, then in Ohio, again like most states, you have the right to cancel the sale and get your money back.

If you bought a vehicle from a car dealer and have not gotten the title yet, then the first thing to do is contact them and ask where it is and when you will get it. If you don’t want to wait any longer then you may already have the right to cancel the sale since failing to deliver the title to the buyer would be a breach of the sale contract.

Car dealers who don’t deliver title to their buyer often do that for several reasons. One is that they haven’t paid off the finance company that loaned them the money to buy it in the first place. Another may be that the person or dealer they bought it from has not gotten title yet either. Whatever the reason, it does not matter.

The obligation to put the title into the buyer’s name is on the car dealer to live up to. If the don’t do it within the time allowed by the law in your state (Ohio says 40 days and most states say between 30 and 45 days), then they lose. It can be that simple.

Okay, so you are right and the dealer is wrong, but you still don't have a title. Now what? There are two legal things you can do and lost of non-court things you can do.

Your Legal Rights

Legally, your options are limited. You can file a claim with the state or you can sue the dealer.

Ohio's Rescission Fund

Like many other states, Ohio has a Rescission Fund administered by the Ohio Attorney General. If you buy a car and never get the title then you can file a claim your money back from the state. If you succeed in the process, then they will refund your out of pocket money and take the vehicle and then the Ohio Attorney General has the right to go after the dealer to recover the money they pay to you.

Sue The Dealer

Or, you can sue the dealer to make them take it back and refund your money. Failing to deliver title is not just a breach of the sale contract but also a violation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, the Ohio Commercial Code, the Advertisement and Sale of Motor Vehicles law, the Motor Vehicle Dealer Licensing Law, and probably Fraud in the first place.


Bottom line? If you don't get your title within 45 days, then start complaining to the dealer and make your complaint short and sweet. If you want to cancel the sale, tell them. If you just want the title so you can keep the car, give them a deadline. Put it all in writing, a short one page letter, and tell them if they don't answer you within, say, 7 or 10 days, then you will contact the state, etc.

And when the deadline passes, it's time to act.

Other Things You Can Do

Other consumers need to know what car dealers can not be trusted too and there are ways you can help spread the word.

And don't forget Yelp and other local search engine reviewing that you can do too.


The Squeaky Wheel still gets the grease. So don't give up, don't quit, and remember - if you don't protect yourself, no one else will. And when you get ripped off, fight back. If you can't get it done on your own, then contact a Consumer Lawyer to help fight for your rights.

Burdge Law Office
Did you get ripped off? Get Burdge Law on your side.

Tuesday

Is Your Car Manufacturer Driven to Safety or Merely Driving You Nuts?

There seems to have been a lot of recalls lately, which has to make you wonder if the car manufacturers are being pushed to recall cars by a concern for safety or a real fear of federal investigations and a public relations disaster.

One thing we know is that the Recall Record has been broken, with more recalls so far this year than in any single entire year since records started being kept. Good grief, are they making them that badly?

Are they being driven to safety by a desire to fix defective vehicles or or are they just driving you nuts by ignoring your lemon while admitting to millions of defective vehicles in other owners' hands?

General Motors announced another 3 million plus vehicles recalled June 16, 2014. Chrysler announced it was recalling Freightliner Cascadia trucks in June too. In June Forest River recalled their 2014 XLR travel trailers. Even BMW recalled a bunch of their motorcycles in June.

Is it just a case of summertime recall blues?

Frankly, with the huge cost of performing recalls, they don't happen for no reason at all. GM already has projected a multi-billion dollar cost for its recalls this year.

It may be that the non-GM companies are doing their recalls now simply because GM is in the news so much with its recall notices that anyone else has a good chance of not having their recalls publicized much right now. It may also be that they have learned "the GM lesson" about hiding 57 cent repairs and getting caught.
Photo from Consumer Reports

For just a few pennies more than a postage stamp, GM could have fixed those ignition switches. But General Motors decided to put the lives of their customers at serious risk and keep it a secret. And when one person sued them over the defect GM already knew existed, GM made them keep their settlement a secret and keep secret the evidence that was uncovered in their lawsuit too. So the next person who died in a GM car from the same defect? They never even knew.

GM put millions of dangerously defective cars on the road and at least 13 people died while they covered it up. Inside G.M., the nation’s largest automaker, some of the 13 victims name appeared on charts and graphs with a date and a single word: “fatal.”

GM got caught and now they are the poster child for big corporate greed that picks profits over the lives of its customers. And they would have gotten away with it entirely but for the media investigations that finally brought their secret into the light. And the Court cases that finally came to light.

For over a decade General Motors used secret agreements to hide the truth about their secret ignition switch settlements. Meanwhile more people were injured or died and far more drivers were frightened when they experienced it too but managed to live through it.

For a decade, GM made its profits and kept the truth silent with its secret settlements. And it was all perfectly legal. You can read how they abused the legal system to keep their customers from knowing about their defects - just click here. Heck, you can read about it in today's USA Today editorial too.

There's a way that maybe you can stop the next big car company from hiding the truth. There's a way that maybe you can force them to stop keeping secrets. It's a change in the law that is now pending in Congress that would stop such secret settlements as the type GM used to keep its customers from knowing about the millions of cars affected by its bad ignition switches. It's called the Sunshine in Litigation Act. But it will never become law without your help.

This bill, now pending in Congress, only requires that a Court approve any request to keep secret information "relevant to the protection of
public health or safety" before that kind of information can be kept from the public by a manufacturer who is in Court charged with selling unsafe products. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? You would not think that any sensible person would want companies to be able to hide the defects they know about. But right now they can. And unless you do something about it, the law won't change.


Companies who build safe consumer products don't need to worry about the Sunshine in Litigation Act. Companies who have secrets to hide are the ones who don't want this law passed. Them and their lobbies who pay and contribute millions of dollars to "influence" the halls of Congress.

The men and women of Congress like the donations, of course. But they also have a healthy respect for letters and emails from back home - that's where you are and that's what you can do right now.

It's easy to support the Sunshine in Litigation Act - just click here to send an email to your congressional representatives. Tell them you have a right to know the next time someone values your life at 57 cents. And you want Congress to make sure someone tells you about it.

Without your help, it will be business as usual. And remember, that was exactly what killed those 13 people.

If you've got a lemon that caused an injury, see a personal injury lawyer near you. If you've just got a lemon that you don't want to get injured by, you can call us. Getting rid of lemons is what we do. Everyday.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons everyday.

Tuesday

Recalls Are Big Headaches for Consumers, but Big Money for Dealers

While engineers continue to crow about cars that are "better designed" than ever, the recalls just keep mounting. It seems like GM is announcing a recall every couple of days.

It's a big headache to consumers. Since 1990, The Detroit Big 3 have recalled about a third of a billion cars and that's a lot of repair work.

In that same time frame, Japanese car makers have recalled just about 100 million and German brands have recalled only about 15 million. If you look at that alone, it appears the Germans build a better car.

But US car dealers aren't getting rich off the German recalls. The Big 3 dealers are though.

We don't want to sound like we are picking on GM, but industry experts predict that GM alone will spend $2 billion just to fix the roughly 16 million cars it has recalled so far this year.

When it comes to making money, GM dealers are smiling all the way to the bank and so are other dealers doing recall work. And the suppliers who build the replacement parts? They are smiling too, of course. It's big business, fixing things that should have been built right in the first place.

According to Automotive News in October 2013, about a third of all recalls have to do with one of only four car systems - the fuel system, the brakes, airbags and seat belts. When you add the power train, it totals almost half of all recalls.

And Monday, June 16, GM added another 3.16 million cars to its totals so far this year. Got a GM car? Don't be surprised if you get a friendly letter from GM in your mail soon too.

If you get a recall, get your car into the dealer right away. If they don't have the parts yet, then ask the service manager if your car is safe to drive. Anything but an unequivocal "yes" should be taken as a big NO. If so, then tell them you want a free loaner car to use until they get it fixed. If you still don't like the answer, then ask to talk to the dealership manager. Then the owner. Then ask for the factory phone number you can call.


The moral is simple. The squeaky wheel still gets the grease, so keep complaining. And make notes of what each person says to you, date and time. This is where Murphy's Law applies.

As sure as you do it, it'll all work out and you won't need it. And as sure as you don't, you will end up wishing you did. And when push comes to shove, let us do the shoving for you.

Burdge Law Office
Getting rid of lemons. It's what we do.

Thursday

Now YOU Can Follow The CIA, Instead of Just Them Following You

Who's Following You?
The CIA is famous for its secret legal briefs to justify eavesdropping and following of all of the rest of us. Well, it turns out that now you can follow them too.
Although burdened with all of the spying work, the CIA found time to open their own Twitter account on June 11. No doubt before doing so they put a team of their crack agents together on what their first tweet should be.
While we can never know the months of research, meetings, group conferences, and thought that went into it, they did come up with an astounding and insightful first tweet, "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet."  Yeah, that took a lot of work.

Knowing who it is though, the real question is - if you "follow" them, will they also "follow" you? Be careful out there.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumer Protect Themselves for Over 25 Years

Wednesday

Arbitration Still Sucks - And it Sucks More Often

Good looks can be deceiving.
In a recent case a consumer complained to us that they had bought a late model Chevrolet Impala that looked and ran great, right up to when it didn't just a few months after they bought it. Then a knocking noise started in the front end, the transmission starting jerking and the tires were cupping. One thing led to another and they found out that it had been in a multi-car accident that was so bad it had to be towed away from the scene.

When you buy a wrecked and poorly repaired car and the selling car dealership hides that fact from you, you probably think you should have the right to make them buy it back and go to Court if they refuse, right? Well, maybe you do and maybe you don't.

This particular new car dealer in Strongsville, Ohio - like many car dealers nowadays - has a little clause printed in their sales contract that says when you buy a car from them, you agree you will never sue them. Buy a car from them and you lose your right to do anything about it in Court. Think you can fight it? Well, think again.

Binding Mandatory Arbitration clauses like that are getting slipped into more and more consumer transactions - very often without the consumer even knowing it. Take breakfast cereal.

Eat cereal and lose your rights?
Did you know that if you bought a General Mills cereal product, say Cheerios or Lucky Charms, etc, or even if you just "liked" them on Facebook, that you were giving up your constitutional right to go to Court if you ever had a dispute with them? Yup. And Heaven help you if you used one of their coupons. True, they recently rewrote their arbitration clause after it became widely reported by the media, by generously saying that just going on Facebook or Twitter would not be covered by the "you can't sue us ever" clause anymore.

But really, folks, if you use a 25 cent coupon and your breakfast cereal turns out to have rat poisen in it, don't you think you should have the right to go to Court over it if you have to?

Little by little, big corporations are taking away your legal rights. It isn't the government that is stripping away your legal rights. And while the nut jobs out there may scream otherwise, it isn't Congress and it isn't the President either. Don't believe it? Check your Direct Tv contract. Your Verizon cell phone contract. Or any of your credit card contracts. You can see a whole list of companies who are doing it to you and read what happened to ordinary people who got nailed by the arbitration hammer at the Public Citizen website.


Binding mandatory arbitration is spreading like a virus and it's attacking you and your rights and you don't even know it.


But back to that Chevy owner. It turns out that the car dealer uses an arbitration clause that says you can never take them to Court over anything at all. So, if someone comes out of the dealership after you with a baseball bat - tough luck. If they lie to you about that car being in perfect condition when really it's a wrecked and badly repaired car - tough luck. And if they sell you a bad transmission - tough luck.


Avoid the Trap. Protect Yourself
All you get to do is pay to go to their private "system" where you will sit in a private room (no public allowed) and try to convince a person picked by the car dealer why they should make the car dealer do something for you. Oh, and you have to pay them for their time. And if they don't side with the car dealer, then the car dealer can just change their paperwork and pick someone else - so whose side do you think they will be on?

Maybe it's time to say "give me back my rights" and start reading your paperwork carefully - and stop doing business with the companies who sell you their products with one hand, take your money with the other hand, and then give you the boot if you catch them ripping you off.

The NRA refuses to let anyone trample on the everyday person's right to bear arms, sure. But who is out there to protect your right to a fair, impartial and public legal system, one where you can go to find Justice? You have to do that for yourself.

So the next time you see something in a contract or paperwork that talks about "arbitration" just take your ink pen out and put a great big "X" over it. If that car dealer wants your money bad enough (and he does), he will take it. And if he doesn't, then you should ask yourself "just what are they doing to me that they are afraid to let a judge and jury find out about?"

And if you already are stuck with an arbitration clause, don't give up. We fight those too. And we win. Fighting a rigged arbitration system by yourself is an uphill battle so don't go it alone. Why do we fight? Frankly, we like fighting for Justice. It's what keeps the bad guys in check.

Arbitration Sucks. More often than ever.


Burdge Law Office
Protecting consumers everyday for more than 25 years.

Rip of the Week - How'd the Payment Get So High?

video

Ever wonder how your car payment got so high without you realizing it? Well, there's a method to some car dealer's madness when it comes to getting into your wallet. Here's one example. We call it our Rip of the Week. Come back next week for another tip on how to keep from getting ripped off when you buy your next car or truck.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumer Protect Themselves, Every Day

Saturday

Thank a Veteran. They Earned it.

This guest post is remarkable and remarkably accurate. It's also timely for this weekend. Slow down this weekend and read it. Then give your thanks to a vet. Too many times we speak without thinking in life. This weekend, think about it and then speak it to a veteran near you.
Older veterans of WWII, Korea, Nam and other periods of service are becoming few and far between with many passing on every day, but you're bound to have plenty of them in your past and many still in your midst yet right now. From the Revolutionary War of 1775, through the wars 'to end all wars' down to the many undeclared 'police actions' and current conflicts, you've had a father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, other family member or friend, directly involved in some sort of service to your country.

Some came back in pieces. Many never came back at all. Some were left to rot where they fell, buried in the rubble of war. Some were blown away on unknown battlefields. Some went down in the bellies of their ships, gasping for that last precious breath of life. All were far from family and friends and loved ones. Some, who never knew any higher power existed, suddenly found themselves calling out with a new found fervor on finding that civilized man is quite capable of treating fellow humans in ungodly ways.

Some were left behind, forgotten as POW or MIA pawns to be debated, bargained for and traded as years wore on. Most of those who served who eventually got back home were profoundly changed mentally, physically and spiritually.

Whether it was a member of the Concord Militia, an early patriot that fought with Washington, a later Doughboy, GI Joe, Grunt or plain 'ol groundpounder you owe them all a debt that can never be fully repaid.

Visit Valley Forge, the beaches of Normandy, Pork Chop Hill or any of the other many fields now history. Put yourself in those boots. Imagine what went on and just what life was like for those doing what they felt was right at the time, for a cause they believed in.

Support the many veterans still here, who have given for you, your children, your grandchildren and on down the line forevermore. Encourage your Congressman to place high priority on the promises made and to meet the needs of those who have given much for the freedom of all. Support and join your local organizations that represent veterans.

Fly your flag. Stand tall when watching a parade that includes veterans. Put a flag on their graves to reaffirm your thankfulness and show your respect.

Think of what it is for you to be standing, living and breathing, while a veteran, who helped provide the freedom you too often take for granted, lies six feet under.

Don't do it just on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Veterans Day or other holidays. Do it in your minds, hearts and deeds every day of the year.
Why should you do any less ??

This post is courtesy of a beloved veteran of World War II, my father, Dale Burdge, who lives in Georgia now, relaxing and enjoying his wonderful wife and the family that loves him. My older brother, Larry, served in Vietman while I served in the Air Force, retraining pilots at an air base in California. I was lucky. Never not to 'nam.. To those who served, like them, we should all be grateful. What they did made a difference in their lives. It made a difference in all of ours too.

Stop and take two minutes this Memorial Day Weekend to watch this video (click here) and see one way veterans are being thanked for their service. Remember your veteran this weekend. Thank them for the sacrifice they gave for all of us. Too many of them are no longer here to thank. Click here to watch the video and remember. 

Wednesday

General Motor's Ignition Switch Nightmare

Steve Moskos, South Carolina Lemon Lawyer
My good friend, Steve Moskos, a dedicated lemon law attorney in South Carolina reminded me of a few things about the current General Motors ignition switch recall which has turned into a public relations nightmare for GM - perhaps deservedly so. I'll repeat his comments here, which seem to be extraordinarily well-taken. 

Automotive News is reporting that in today’s Congressional hearing, GM executive McCaskill accused a General Motors engineer of lying about his role in the 2006 redesign of the flawed ignition switch that now is linked to 13 deaths. It should now be obvious to everyone that GM “chose to conceal, rather than disclose” this deadly safety defect for more than seven years. Meanwhile, people drove GM cars and some died because of GM's decision. 
 
On Tuesday, House lawmakers released a document from April 2006 showing that GM engineer Ray DeGiorgio authorized the redesign of the now-recalled switch. But DeGiorgio later denied it in in an April 2013 deposition where told a consumer lawyer representing the family of a Georgia woman who was killed when her 2005 Cobalt crashed that he didn’t approve any changes to the ignition switch in 2006. Seems his memory is a little loose. 

(c) McSwain Engineering
Meanwhile, the Herald Tribune newspaper reported that by the time attorneys started taking depositions from GM engineers in April 2013, an independent engineer in Florida had documented the part change thoroughly. In one deposition, a consumer lawyer confronted Raymond DeGiorgio, the head switch engineer on the Chevrolet Cobalt, with the differences between the original switch and the replacement. While DeGiorgio said he saw the differences, he could not explain why the part had been changed without a corresponding change in its identification number.  Policy requires a change in the part number whenever the design is changed, according to reports appearing in numerous media outlets.

"I was not aware of a detent plunger switch change," he said. "We certainly did not approve a detent plunger switch change." 

As Steve Moskos reminds us, this is precisely why lemon lawyers need to hold manufacturers accountable. Court rules require defendants in court cases to disclose what they know - including what they have tucked away in places they don't want anyone to look. It's called "discovery" by the legal system and General Motors now is seen to have had a long practice of hiding the truth from consumers, their lawyers, the courts, and even the federal safety investigators in charge of motor vehicle safety standards and investigations in this county. GM and its lawyers were required to comply with the law in the litigation process. 

All defendants, like GM, are required to speak the truth in court papers and in lawsuits. What we have here is a perfect example of the idealism of the court process with the warped "money first" real-world viewpoint of some large corporations in America. You can't put a corporation in jail for telling lies to judges and juries and the government itself because a corporation only exists on paper, technically. And that may be one reason why you have to do something more. You have to take away the one and only thing that Big Corporations care about, apparently more than anything else.

If federal safety investigators are smart, they will use the Toyota financial penalty as the yardstick by which to measure how to punish GM for its decision to save 57 cents per part and let its customers run the risk of getting killed in their Chevy. For the families of those people who died, the lives lost were worth a lot more than 57 cents.

The entire GM debacle is a reminder that the corporate greed problem that we saw with the Ford Pinto's exploding gas tank, has not really gone away at all. And it won't go away until Congress changes it. And Congress won't change it until American voters make Congress do it. 


Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves since 1978

Sinkhole Sucks Down 8 Corvettes in Kentucky

8 Corvettes at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky disappeared down a massive sinkhole inside one of the museum buildings before the museum opened today, February 12, according to Automotive News.

A 40 foot wide hole opened up in the museum floor and down they went. The classic cars included two that were on loan from General Motors and six owned by the museum. The cars now rest at the bottom of a hole that is, so far, about 30 feet deep and include a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder and a 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil, a 1962 black Corvette; 1984 PPG Pace Car; 1992 white 1-millionth Corvette; 1993 40th anniversary Corvette; 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06; and the 2009 1.5-millionth Corvette.

The museum is located within a mile of the factory where Corvettes have been built for over 30 years, in an area of Kentucky where caves and sinkholes are not uncommon - but this is the first one that has ever been known to occur at the museum.

While any Corvette is worth some money for sure, the 1993 ZR-1 Spyder was a concept car, a one of a kind build with a value that no one wants to guess. 'course, at the bottom of that sinkhole, there might be a scuff or two on the finish by now.

Museum officials are now working on how to get the cars out and, no doubt, filling out some insurance claim forms too.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers, Every Day

New Ford Mustang Design Unveiling December 5, 2013

Just shy of 50 years after Ford released its first Mustang, the company is on the verge of announcing its Camaro-fighting design and style change.

According to Automotive News press reports, Ford will unveil the new 2015 Mustang design on Thursday, Dec 5. Time Magazine has some pics posted on their website that look like they were taken up close and personal. If they are accurate, the nose looks scooped down but the rest of the changes are visually pretty subtle.

Before now, Ford has redesigned the Mustang once every decade, so it was due for a change anyway. But the intense competition from the Chevrolet Camaro put the pressure on to come up with something strikingly new to keep its buyers in the corral and keep the Camaro far behind the pony car.

So far this year the Camaro has outsold the Mustang and the books will probably close that way at Jan 1. That will make three years running that the Camaro has left Mustang behind and taken over as the leader of the pack.

Reportedly the hallmarks of the original Mustang will remain while new stylistic touches are added. Just how bold Ford will go is anyone's guess so keep your eyes peeled on the news tomorrow.

Before you rush out to buy one though, just remember that old adage about the first year of any new model or major change like this is often the worst of the bunch, as the manufacturer struggles to get everything right in the new production process too.

And if you end up with a lemon Mustang? You know who to call, don't you? Yeah, we thought so.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of bad cars for more than 25 years
 
Lemon Law - it's what we do.

Tuesday

Motor Vehicle Title Late? Maybe You Don't Own Your New Car After All

Buying a motor vehicle can be risky for reasons you didn’t even know about.

Are you giving away your money if you don't get a title?
When a car dealer sells a new or used motor vehicle, most states require that the dealer transfer the title into the name of the buyer within a maximum number of days, often just 30 or 40 days. If the dealer fails to do that on time, then most states say that the buyer has the absolute right to cancel the sale (this is often called a Title Defect Law). But maybe not.

Many states have changed their title defect law to require that the buyer actually has to tell the seller that they are cancelling the sale. Sort of like you either say it out lout (or in writing) or it doesn't get said at all.

If the buyer patiently waits or the dealer talks them into waiting, and the dealer gets the title to them before they actually say the want to cancel the sale - then the dealer wins and the buyer is stuck - even if they got a lemon! Of course, the problem is that most people have no idea that they can cancel the sale for such a technical reason. And the car dealer sure isn't going to tell you.

Why is the law so strict about giving the buyer the vehicle title?

Having the title means you are the owner.
Nothing else counts. Period.
Because motor vehicles are “titled” property in most states, the only way a person can have a legal interest in a motor vehicle is if their name is on the vehicle title. Nothing else counts. That means you have to have the title in your name to be the owner. It also means that you can’t sell a car without having the title in your name either. 

Most states also have a law that says that a car dealer is only allowed to sell a car without having the title already in their name if they have the legal ability to transfer the title into the dealer’s name right away and they, in fact, do that and then transfer title to the buyer’s name within a limited amount of time, usually about 40 days after the sale. But each state law can be a little different on this.

Of course, dealers often buy a car and then sell it very quickly. After all, they don't make a profit until they sell it. That can lead to a dealer selling it before they even receive the title to it. That can delay you getting your title too.

If you bought a vehicle from a dealer and did not get your title in time then you probably have the right to cancel the sale if you act quickly enough and you do it right.

If you have not gotten the title at all yet, then the first thing to do is contact the dealer and ask where it is and when you will get it or, if you are tired of waiting and the time limit has run out, then you can call the dealer and tell them you are cancelling the sale and you will return the vehicle to them just as soon as they tell you they will refund your down payment and return your trade in vehicle (if you paid them anything down or had a trade in). 

Don't get stuck when the dealer closes
If the dealer is no longer in business, then you need to contact your state motor vehicle department right away and see a lawyer. Some states have a fund that will buy cars from victims of car dealers who never deliver titles to their buyers.

In fact, to find out what all of this means in your situation and in your state you really need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney near you.

Of course, the safest thing to do is make sure you get the title. If you are paying cash, the dealer should be able to sign the title over to you right then and there. If not, you could be giving your money away.

And that is also the exact reason it is so risky to buy a car from a stranger, not a car dealer, who promises to get the title to you in a day or so. It might never come.

Be careful out there. Don't take a chance. But if something goes wrong, call us for help. Helping consumers is what we do.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers every day

Ways Cars Are Getting Worse

For years we have become accustomed to the idea that every year motor vehicles get better and safer. It looks like maybe we are wrong about that.

Matthew de Paula at Forbes has an interesting article on the ways that new cars are getting worse. And while we hadn't thought about it before, they make some very accurate points.

Huge Wheels. 14 and 15 inch wheels were the rule and very common years ago. Now, you can't go on a new car lot without seeing 19 and 20 inch wheels on some cars. And the tires are routinely wider than ever too. Not only do they cost more, but everything about them costs more. They are less forgiving and give a different, often harsher ride too.
Big is not always better

We were returning from Michigan one night when a pot hole suddenly appeared on the road in front of us - too late to swerve and miss it. You could hear the wheel bang into the hole and feel it through the car. The tire pressure light instantly came on, warning that the air pressure in the tire was rapidly going out. The rim was dented and the run flat tire ripped into the sidewall, flattening the tire. No one was open but luckily we were just a short, slow drive to the next exit where there was a hotel to stay overnight so the car could be towed to the nearest (30 miles away) dealer to get a new rim and tire. That was a $1,000 pot hole.

It made me think of the wheels and tires on my first car as a teenager, a used 1959 Ford passed down to me. That car would have gently dipped into the pot hole and come right out of it and just kept on going.

Sure those big wheeled run flats look cool, but you have to wonder if they really make your car any better. They may be just an expense you should avoid.

Check out Matthew's Forbes article for the other ways that cars are getting worse. It'll open your eyes - and maybe close your wallet next time you go car shopping too.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Help Themselves Since 1978.

Monday

A New Chevrolet in Just Two Months? You Betcha!

Sometimes a manufacturer will argue and argue, stall and delay, and maybe even make you go to court to get rid of your lemon. Then sometimes, they see reality and know we won't give up and they just do it.

That was the case for a wonderful lady from Ohio whose 2011 Chevy Malibu turned out to be a lemon.

With door rattles, the trac system warning light, radio buttons that would stick, loss of tail lights, marker lights that wouldn't work, more electrical system lighting troubles, inside lights that flash or flicker - all during the first year - it's no wonder she thought it was a lemon. Multiple times int he shop and days out of service and not much more than lip service to show for it.

Then the second year of troubles started. Cracking and popping noises in reverse gear or when turning, dash lights and shifter lights that blink when they want to, more rattles, more lights that flash when they want for who knows what reasons, tail lights that won't work again and back to the blinking dash lights again and a failing XM radio system.

After 38 days in the shop over the course of two years, she knew she had a lemon. And she had every reason to be mad about a bad car and a dealer who had no clue what to do and a manufacturer that didn't seem to care. She had every good reason to be mad.

So we got mad with General Motors for her --- and in short order it was all over with. Now she's got a new Chevrolet sitting in her driveway and she's smiling.

And we have a huge box of chocolate candy from a very happy client. Oh, and General Motors paid our attorney fee bill instead of her. That's only fair too.

Burdge Law Office
Getting rid of lemons for more than 25 years.
It's what we do.

Thank a Veteran Today

Every Veteran's Day we tell this story of a young lawyer, a farmer, and a war fought long ago, in tribute to the veterans in each of our families - and all the veterans who have served over the generations and who still serve today.

A few years ago, a local farmer came in to see me for some help. Bills and crop prices and debt had him over a barrel and we talked about bankruptcy and what it could and couldn’t do to help relieve his situation. He was a big strong man, the way some farmers just naturally are, both in his heart and his size. We were about the same age but he looked so much older.

His situation took about 5 months to get resolved but I will never forget the day that I learned that he was a chopper pilot in Vietnam about the same time as my older brother, Larry, was there. I had no clue and never would have guessed.

We both stopped what we were talking about, his own current problem, while he looked out the window and quietly talked about what it was like then, back in Vietnam. It was hard for me to look at this older and much heavier man and try to imagine what he must have looked like back in the days of 1966-'68. Now, he was mostly bald and probably weighed a lot more than he did back then, but like me he had been young once too. Now, he didn't move as quick as he undoubtedly did in 'nam either.

But you could tell from the distance in his eyes as he spoke that he had never really left it all behind him.

He talked about what it was like to fly a chopper in and out of valleys and hills and fire, dropping down as quickly as he could and picking up a wounded soldier or two and getting back out of there, wherever "there" was, as fast as he could. Nothing but plexiglass between him and the bullets.

He said he loved flying helicopters then, but that he was never in his life as scared as he was in those few minutes between the time just before he would land and when he was back out of the worst of the fire. He said they were the longest minutes of his life. He called it dodging a lifetime of bullets, scared to death that one of them had his name on it.

He had a dusty old baseball cap in his hand as we talked. It hung loosely in his hand as he gazed aimlessly out the window. It was from some team that didn't really matter, I'm sure. His eyes were never in the room with us as he calmly and matter-of-factly talked of how men died around him and also of those who came back like him.

You could tell he had memories he wished he didn't have. He said the worst feeling he had from the whole war was that every time he'd lift off the ground he knew that while he was getting out of there, he was leaving other boys behind. He'd fly away, his heart pounding loud in his chest, while the fighting went on below him.

After a long while, he stopped talking and we just sat there, not talking at all. I could see that things were going on inside his mind and I just didn't know what to say. I was dumbstruck by this seemingly now-gentle giant of a man who had been through hell. Truth be told, I didn't think I had a right to say anything at all. After what seemed like the longest time, both of us returned to the present moment. He never spoke about it again.

It's been years now. I don't even remember his name. Probably most of the guys he saved didn't remember it either. I haven't thought of him since then until my older brother sent me a recording he found on the internet, called God's Own Lunatics (click below) that explained what it was like to be one of those foot soldiers on the ground. I clicked on it, listened, and the memory all came back to me.

I recall that he was the son of a local farmer who had gone off to war and came back all grown up - to be his father's son, a farmer again. Something about beating your swords into plows seems appropriate for me to end this note but it also seems so trivial a thing to say. I can still recall his face.
We all owe veterans a whole lot more than any of us will ever be able to repay. If you know someone who served, shake their hand and thank them. You don't need to say why. They'll know.