There is a Lemon Law for Puppies 'n Pets Too

Because we are lemon law lawyers, we often get the question of whether or not there is a lemon law for pets. While we don't normally handle cases of that type, a lot of states actually do have what are called "Puppy Lemon Laws."

Yes, there can be such a thing as a "lemon" puppy (or cat) and, yes, there are lemon pet laws in several states.

Basically, pet lemon laws are intended to protect consumers from sellers who market sick pets to unaware consumers. How much protection you may get will depend on your particular state law though. Like some of the pets, some of the laws aren’t perfect either.

Generally these "puppy lemon laws" let the buyer get a refund when they return a sick puppy or at least get reimbursement for vet bills. Most of these laws cover different kinds of pets but you will need to read your state's law to see if it covers your kind of pet.

Here is a list of the states that have a puppy lemon law at last date checked:

- in the North: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont

- in the South: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia

- in the Mid West, Minnesota and Nebraska are the only states with a puppy lemon law

- in the West, only California and Nevada have puppy lemon laws

If your state has a puppy law, then you should have the right to either make the pet store take it back and refund your money or pay the vet bill.

If you state does not have a puppy law, then your sales paperwork may control your legal rights and you should be able to use your state’s commercial and sales laws under a breach of contract theory.

When you make a contract with someone, then as long as the contract is for something that is legal, then it is enforceable. Every state has a special law, however, that says that if more than a small amount of money (sometimes as little as $500) is involved then the contract has to be in writing. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but the basic terms have to be written down and usually signed. So, if your sick puppy cost less than $500, you don't need a written contract to bring a claim in most states because the oral contract for the sale is enforceable by itself.

Technically, a contract is defined as an agreement where someone makes an offer to do something, someone accepts that offer, and there is a legally sufficient "consideration" for it. That usually means money but it can mean giving up something besides money too. If one side does not live up to the agreement, then the other side can file a claim against them in court. So if you were told the puppy was not sick and it turned out to be sick, then you may have a claim for breach of contract.

At court you have to prove there was a contract, that the other side did not do what they agreed to do (or perhaps did it wrong), and that they caused damage to occur (usually measured in money). So if they sell you a sick puppy, saying it is not sick, that's a breach.

Some states, however, require that you give the other side a notice that they breached the contract before you can file a claim against them in court. That can be as simple as a note or letter or phone call, but the more money that is involved, the more careful you should be to see that the notice is being done right. Some states also require that you give them a chance to "cure" (make it right) the breach before you can file a claim in court too. So, you have to tell them the puppy is sick and give them a chance to make it right with you.

If your puppy turns out to be ill when you purchase it, then return and complain to the pet shop or store. Try to negotiate to get what you want or what you can accept. If that doesn’t work, you can contact your state attorney general’s office or the Better Business Bureau and see if they can help.

There is little enforcement of these puppy lemon laws and they are generally written to let you do it yourself. You may have to talk to a private attorney for help or in some states you may be able to use your local small claims court process to get your money back.

If you can't work it out, you may want to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney who deals with this kind of case to find out for sure how the law works in your state. Call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you or you can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers ( and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers,

But act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time getting to a Consumer Law attorney and finding out what your rights are.

Hopefully, your new pet (and you) won't need the protection that a Lemon Law can give, but it's good to know it's there when you need it.
Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves everyday


New Mini Cooper Goes 149 mph? Redesigned "bucket" roof looks cool

When it came out, the Mini Cooper was a remake of the classic shape from days gone by, updated with new dash instruments and toys. Well, hold on to your hub caps. Here comes a new one and it's not your father's Mini either.

The company is coming out with new shapes and updates and the most dramatic is the juiced up new coupe. A 2 seater 2012 Mini Cooper that can go 149 mph flat out (fasten that seat belt really tight) with a new aero design that cuts down wind friction, a "bucket" roof design that cuts it down further, a spoiler built into the rear roof design to force the rear end to hold the road at high speeds, and - the icing on the cake - an added spoiler that automatically pops up on the rear when the car hits 50 mph for even greater road hugging (and it retracts when your speed drops down to a more sluggish 37 mph).

With looks that any teenager will love and 20-somethings will lust after, and performance that will appeal to the 30-something generation, this one is likely to sell pretty good we suspect.

Add to that the usual reliable nature of the Mini brand and they could well have a hot seller here. The Detroit Bureau first look review is located here (click).

Burdge Law Office
Because life is too short to drive a lemon


Hyundai Sonata steering system breaking apart? Be careful out there, folks

Steering system falling apart?
So what's up with the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and their steering system failures? Either no one knows - or no one is talking freely about it. But the problem is there - and it's dangerous.

Hyundai built over 161,000 2011 Sonata vehicles. Some of them - how many, who knows - may have a deadly defective steering system problem. About 40,000 of them have never been fixed at all, according to Hyundai itself.

In a letter to federal safety investigators, Hyundai admitted that it has received warranty claims and customer complaints about a steering system failure where the steering system disengages from the steering wheel, in one way or another, and loss of vehicle control can result.

One owner reported that when trying to make a turn the vehicle steering had no control and the vehicle just went straight ahead. Obviously, the situation could be dangerous. In another report, a rattle noise was apparently heard before any failure occurred but parts showed signs of a coming failure defect possibility. In another case, missing steering shaft joint cap parts were discovered missing during a predelivery inspection. In yet another, a steering shaft "separation" had occurred.

Notice went out to Hyundai dealers to be on the lookout for the steering shaft defects but owners should be particularly attentive to any unusual noise or sensation related to the steering system. When the steering shaft separates - you lose steering control. If it happens on the highway, serious injuries can result.

So, at the first sign of a problem, get your Sonata to a Hyundai dealer right away - carefully. And if your dealer doesn't take care of your problem quickly, call us on our Hyundai lemon owner hotline toll free at 1.888.331.6422. Or email us right now for free lemon law help.

Burdge Law Office
Because life is too short to drive a lemon Hyundai

Here's how Hyundai and federal safety investigators described the Sonata situation:

The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is aware of 7 complaints and field reports and 10 warranty claims on the subject vehicles that allege the intermediate steering shaft became loose or in some cases separated from the upper steering column and/or the steering gearbox, causing (or potentially causing) the hand wheel to become mechanically de-coupled from the road wheels resulting in a complete loss of steering capability. The reported causes include excessive free play or separation of the intermediate steering shaft upper and/or lower universal joint cross shaft/yoke; missing, loose or damaged universal joint pinch bolts; improperly assembled intermediate steering shafts with misaligned splines or insufficient spline engagement preventing the universal joint pinch bolt from being secured in the retaining groove when fastened. On September 20, 2010, the manufacturer notified the agency that it would conduct a safety recall (NHTSA Recall No. 10V-426) to address the alleged defect in approximately 139,500 subject vehicles produced from December 11, 2009 through September 10, 2010. In addition to inspecting the steering shaft, the manufacturer will also update the electric power-assist steering control software to address complaints that the steering wheel vibrates or shakes as a result of a a motor driven power steering malfunction. The manufacturer began notifying affected owners by written letter on October 14, 2010. To date, 119,383 subject vehicles have been serviced under the recall campaign and 58 subject vehicles have received replacement parts as a result. Accordingly, this investigation is closed.

What's going on with Ford Escape rear windows breaking at unusually high frequency rate

Rear windows breaking at high rate - How come?
While we normally don't talk about recalls here, every once in a while we become aware of federal safety investigations that are "ahead" of the recall process and which are serious enough that consumers need to be aware of them - so they can be careful and perhaps even avoid buying problem cars or defective trucks. This is one of those situations.

So, what's up with the 2011 Ford Escape? And is the problem only with the 2011 model? What did they do to fix it after that model year started? And when did Ford first realize it was a problem?

It, is the unusual number of windows that are breaking in the early model year 2011 Focus vehicles. After four months of investigation by federal safety investigators, the investigation was closed with no explanation of the defect or its cause. Ford, no doubt, smiled. Meanwhile, consumers should be concerned.

Here's the official announcement by federal safety investigators:

In its response to the agency, Ford acknowledged a higher than normal level of glass breakage incidents in the model year (MY) 2010 to early-build MY 2011 subject vehicles. The incidents occurred when the liftgate glass was being opened, or more typically while being closed, but in both cases while the vehicle was stationery, i.e., not moving on the roadway. Additionally failures often occurred during early morning hours when ambient and/or liftgate glass temperatures may have been lower. Ford advised that it investigated the failures but failed to identify an anomaly in the glass manufacturing process (which is often a factor in glass breakage trends ODI investigates) that could explain the reports. It did however identify a potential thermal expansion/compression condition in the mounting of the rear wiper motor to the liftgate glass. Starting at MY 2008 vehicle production the motor was attached to the glass using an adhesive. Ford revised that design to a "nut and bolt" type attachment in October 2010, during MY 2011 vehicle production. ODI's review of Ford data indicates that vehicles built after this change exhibit lower glass breakage rates. Among the 296 consumer complaints on the subject vehicles, ODI identified 15 injury incidents resulting in a total of 18 alleged injuries. All the injuries were minor in nature and consisted mainly of superficial skin cuts or minor lacerations, with two of the injury incidents occurring when vehicle owners were cleaning up broken glass. Additionally both the injury rate and report rate (including warranty claims) are low in comparison to similar investigations resulting in safety recalls (see PE04-045, MY 2002 Ford explorer liftgate glass failure, which resulted in NHTSA safety recall 04V442). In November 2010 Ford issued Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) 10-22-10 to address reports of liftgate glass breakage on all MY 2010 vehicles, and MY 2011 vehicles built through 10/15/2010, the date the above design revision was implemented. The TSB enables owners of affected vehicles to have a broken liftgate glass replaced under normal vehicle warranty, which would not otherwise be a warrantable failure, with the revised design liftgate glass. A safety-related defect has not been identified at this time and further use of agency resources does not appear to be warranted. Accordingly, this investigation is closed. The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist. The agency will monitor this issue and reserves the right to take further action if warranted by the circumstances.

So, the proven fact seems to be that if you open the liftgate, the glass can break. And if you close the liftgate, the glass can break. Either way, it shouldn't be happening. And Ford has no idea why it happens more often here than with the earlier model year Escape vehicles.

But almost 300 consumers reported the breaking glass and 18 injuries occurred from the breaking glass in the Ford Escape.

Perhaps to take care of the complaints, or short circuit the recall process, Ford issued a secret warranty under its technical service bulletin process to make repairs for free in the 2010 and 2011 model year Escape vehicles. And the whole problem all quietly just stopped.

Is your 2011 Ford Escape safe? How about your 2010 Ford Escape? Will the liftgate window shatter for no apparent reason?

And if it does, will your dealer fix it - or should you even have to wonder?

If you've got a lemon Ford Escape, don't take a chance. If your dealer won't take care of you, call our toll free lemon Ford Escape Hotline at 1.888.331.6422 or email us right now by clicking here

Getting rid of lemon Ford vehicles is what we do. Making Ford pay our attorney fees (instead of you), well that's only fair. After all, they built it.

Burdge Law Office
Because life is too short to drive a lemon Ford

Federal safety experts investigating Ford Mustang

Pic by Michael Gil from Flickr
Sometimes complaints about a specific kind of defect in a vehicle cause us to issue an alert to our clients to watch out, and avoid, a developing defect problem. Today, it's the 2012 Ford Mustang.

Turns out that federal safety investigators at NHTSA are looking into the 2012 Ford Mustang and the rising frequency of complaints by owners

NHTSA is the federal agency in charge of motor vehicle safety recalls for the federal government. An investigation is one of the beginning steps to a recall and signals that a sufficient number of owners have complained about substantially the same defect to cause federal safety investigators to look more closely at the vehicle and the owner complaints that have been received.

So far nothing is proven, of course, but here is how federal motor vehicle safety investigators are characterizing their investigation:

ODI has received 32 complaints alleging an unexpected inability to shift into gear on model year (MY)2011-2012 Ford Mustangs equipped with manual transmissions. Some reports allege incidents occurred while merging into high speed traffic and others allege that incidents occurred while turning left across oncoming traffic. Some complainants allege that the erratic shifting behavior almost caused a collision with adjacent vehicles. A Preliminary Evaluation has been opened to assess the scope, frequency and potential safety consequences associated with the alleged defect.

ODI is the federal Office of Defect Investigations at NHTSA and where consumer complaints are compiled until a formal investigation is triggered. Now Ford Mustang's 2012 model is in the que to be examined.

If you've got one of these potentially deadly defect Mustang vehicles, you should be careful when driving it. At the first sign of a problem, get it to your dealer - even if you have to get it towed - and examined for defects. Don't take a chance with a deadly defective Ford or any other type vehicle. If you've got a lemon, ask your dealer to fix it.

If your dealer doesn't take care of you, call our Ford owner lemon hotline at 1.888.331.6422 for free lemon law help. Or, email us right now by clicking here: for FREE help right now.

Getting rid of lemons is what we do. Everyday. Making them pay your attorney fees too? Well, that's only fair.

Burdge Law Office
Because life is too short to drive a lemon Ford
or any other kind of lemon car or lemon truck too!


Dodge Journey Headed Down the Wrong Road as defects and complaints mount up?

We get a lot of calls every day from consumers who are having problems with vehicles. The defects vary anywhere from trim falling off to more serious defects such as engine stalling and brakes and more.

From time to time we notice an increase in complaints about a particular make or model and recently it happened again.

The Dodge Journey's defects run most commonly across the 2009 and 2010 and 2011 model years with complaints about hesitation in the transmission, fuel problems, electrical problems, abnormal brake wear and many other defects have come to our attention.

For instance the 2010 ws recalled for leaking power steering fluid complaints. And the 2009 model year Journey had five recalls including two on the air bag system, two on the electrical system and one on the transmission. And a steering column defect resulted in a recall on the 2011 model year Dodge Journey.

And that's just the safety recalls and we are not even counting the secret warranties covered by factory technical service bulletins where Chrysler quietly tells their dealers about known problems and fixes that aren't covered by recalls.

If you've got a lemon Dodge Journey, you're in good company. Don't take a chance. At the first sign of any defect, get your vehicle in to your dealer for repairs. And if your dealer doesn't take care of you. Call us right away on our toll free Dodge lemon hotline at 1.888.331.6422 or email us right away by clicking here. Getting rid of lemon Dodge and other lemon vehicles is what we do.

Burdge Law Office
Because life is too short to drive a lemon


Free ebook The Ohio Lemon Law Bible, download here

Just released - the Ohio Lemon Law Bible - a free ebook now available from the Ohio Lemon Law lawyers at Burdge Law Office.


Chapters include:
How Can this Book Help You?
Lemon Law Myths in Ohio
Bad Vehicles Happen
Your Ohio Lemon Law Rights Explained
... and more

Get your free copy by clicking here:


Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemon cars and trucks
for over 30 years


More ways to spot a wrecked car before you buy it

Here's another one minute video on how to spot a car that was wrecked and repaired - before you buy it. Some car dealers don't tell you all they know, like the fact that a car was wrecked and repaired. And that can make for thousands of dollars difference in the value of the car. Don't let a car dealer rip you off. Before you buy that used car, check it over carefully so you don't waste your money.

And if you do get ripped off, call us. Fighting to protect consumers from car sales fraud - that is what we do everyday. Call us on our Toll Free Car Sales Fraud Hotline, 1.888.331.6422, or email us right now.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves for over 25 years.


Saab kicked out of court; preparing for the worst as bankruptcy nears

Saab's effort appears to have failed to get it non-bankruptcy court protection from the millions of dollars it owes to creditors and almost two weeks of employee salaries, according to Automotive News and The Detroit Bureau industry insiders.

While saying it planned to appeal the court decision, the time may be running out along with the cash left in the coffers. An appeal may be meaningless if the Saab worker's union acts, as threatened, within the next few days to force the Swedish company into bankruptcy.

In the court's rejection of Saab's protection attempt, the court noted that it was not clear if or when the white knight investors would come to Saab's rescue. Apparently the court itself feels that if they can't survive on their own and there is no firm date for the check to arrive, then the company's choices aren't pretty but they may be forced on them anyway.

As we've said before, if you are thinking about buying a new or used Saab vehicle, you may want to think again.

Burdge Law Office
Because life's too short to drive a lemon.


Saab Files for Court Protection - is that water going down the drain I hear?

Saab finally got to the point where the roof was going to cave in (economically) so they filed for court protection from creditors in Sweden - something akin to a bankruptcy reorganization filing sort of. It protects them from creditor collection efforts while they continue the effort to get their finances in order with more loan money from one source or another. Meanwhile, the Saab North America chief is publicly saying that is is optimistic about the company's survival.

With the filing, Saab corporate said that it "is seeking court approval for a voluntary reorganization to secure short-term stability while it waits for funding from Chinese investors Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co." Read more:

Will Saab survive? Only time will tell. Saab quality is pretty good and their latest entry into the "cross-over" vehicle market got some good reviews in spite of availability difficulties.

But for now, buying a Saab (new or used) may not be smart.

Burdge Law Office
Because life's too short to drive a lemon.

How to Spot a Wrecked Car Before You Buy It - 1 Minute Video - Door Panels

Here's a one minute video on how to spot a car that was wrecked and repaired - before you buy it. Some car dealers don't tell you all they know, like the fact that a car was wrecked and repaired. And that can make for thousands of dollars difference in the value of the car. Don't let a car dealer rip you off. Before you buy that used car, check it over carefully so you don't waste your money.

And if you do get ripped off, call us. Fighting to protect consumers from car sales fraud - that is what we do everyday. Call us on our Toll Free Car Sales Fraud Hotline, 1.888.331.6422, or email us right now.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves, for over 25 years.


Title Fraud Remains Easy To Do - Burdge quoted in newspaper

Attorney Ron Burdge was quoted in the Sunday edition of The Gazette in a news story dealing with motor vehicle title fraud, "Washing the title remains relatively easy for anyone with thievery in their heart."

Motor vehicle "title washing" is the term car dealers use to describe how they get rid of ("wash") the state-law-mandatory brand off of a car title. Many states have laws that require a motor vehicle's legal title to be "branded" with a permanent word or phrase that describes something that happened to the vehicle, such as being totalled out in an accident, salvaged, a flood vehicle, a lemon law buy back, etc.

Title washing occurs when a car dealer who wants to remove that brand, illegally, simply retitles the vehicle in a state that does not have a branding law that exactly matches up with the original state's law. Since it doesn't, the brand doesn't exist and the title clerk in the new state issues a clean title with no brand on it at all. Then it looks like the vehicle never had any problem at all in its history - making it worth thousands of dollars more than a branded title vehicle. A very profitable kind of fraud is title washing.

Reporting on a Montana truck owner who found out that their truck was a salvage vehicle that had been wrecked, the story explains how the truck went through a series of quick dealer-to-dealer sales - a frequent sign that the dealers see something they don't want to hold on to. The owner is now stuck making payments of $338 on a truck that isn't worth a fraction of the original selling price.

It's a good explanation of how a little time and caution can help avoid being a victim, but not when the thieves are really good at what they are doing - and many of them are.

Even if the title shows nothing, and a CarFax or AutoCheck or a search of the federal wrecked car database at shows nothing, there are some tell-tale ways to spot a wrecked-and-repaired car before you buy it. Here's a link to our video tips on how to spot a wrecked car before you buy it.

Burdge Law Office
Because life's too short to drive a wrecked car