Lemon Law Wisconsin
Introducing Larry Towers

Jury Trial Victory:
Jackson v. Chrysler Corp., 92-CV-1821. One of the early Lemon Law jury trials in Wisconsin. The Jacksons won refund of their investment, double damages, and attorney’s fees. The current Wisconsin Jury Instructions on the Lemon Law are mostly drawn from my proposed jury instructions in this Jackson case.

Jury Trial Victory: Fusi v. Volkswagen, 94-CV-11949. The jury awarded Catherine Fusi a refund of her investment in the minivan, double damages, attorney’s fees and, in a bizarre twist, wrote on the jury verdict that Ms. Fusi also should get $40,000 of punitive damages to punish Volkswagen for its conduct in the trial! The case was settled thereafter on confidential terms.

Bench Trial Victory: Cantwell v. Ford, 96-CV-427. The Court found that the pickup truck was a lemon and awarded refund of Mr. Cantwell’s investment in the truck, double damages and attorney’s fees.

Bench Trial Victory: Deuster v. Ford, 96-CV-824. The Court found that Lisa Deuster’s pickup truck was defective based on a dangerous pull problem and awarded her a refund of her investment in the truck, double damages, and attorney’s fees. The judge, after rendering his decision, verbally chastised the Ford representative/expert witness and Ford’s attorney for putting Lisa, a young mother, through years of litigation with such a dangerous vehicle.

Summary Judgment Motion Victory: Chobanian v. Ford, 96-CV-2591. The Court ruled on summary judgment that the Chobanian’s Ford Explorer was a lemon as a matter of law and awarded the Chobanians refund of their investment in the vehicle, double damages and attorney’s fees.

Jury Trial Victory: Dobbratz v. Kenworth Truck, 99-CV-0973. The jury found that the Dobbratz’ dump truck was a lemon because it could not stationary steer (due to installation of the wrong-sized steer gear boxes). The total award was ever $483,000. This is believed to be one of the largest lemon law judgments in the U.S.

Jury Trial Victory (Federal Court): Noll v. Freightliner, 02-CV-0026S. The federal jury found that the Noll over-the-road tractor was a lemon on multiple bases: engine lacked power (due to installation of wrong diameter fuel lines), inoperative temperature gauge, inoperative air horn, more than 30 days out of service. The total award was $419,678.71 and is believed to be one of the largest lemon law judgments in the U.S.

Settlement Victory: (Manufacturer’s Identity Confidential): In 2003, a trucking company hired me to resolve 32 identical new defective heavy trucks with engines repeatedly overheating due to new emissions engines. The manufacturer agreed to replace all 32 trucks, pay lost income and out of pocket costs, and pay attorney’s fees. Value of this settlement is estimated to be In excess of $2,500,000. Believed to be one of the largest settlements in Lemon Law history.

Appellate Victory: Vultaggio v. General Motors, 145 Wis.2d 874 (Ct.App. 1988). This appeal won a very expansive definition of what constitutes “out of service” in the Lemon Law. That definition is now incorporated into the Wisconsin Jury Instruction for “out of service.”

Appellate Victory: Dobbratz v. Kenworth, 2002 WI App. 138. PACCAR and Kenworth appealed the above $483,000 trial victory to the Court of Appeals and then tried to take it to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. They lost at every level. The General Counsel of PACCAR called me after losing at the Supreme Court and said: “Larry, let’s not ever do this again.” I responded: “You’re the boss.” So far, I have not had to sue PACCAR, Kenworth or Peterbilt since. We’ve settled every case.

Amicus Curiae Briefs: I was lead volunteer author of amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in four key lemon law appeals: Nick v. Toyota, 160 Wis.2d 373 (Ct.App. 1991), Hughes v. Chrysler, 197 Wis.2d 973 (1996), Dieter v. Chrysler, 229 Wis.2d 481 (Ct. App. 1999) and Kiss v. GM, 2001 WI App 122 (Ct.App. 2001). In these cases, I did not have a “horse in the race” (I did not represent the plaintiff.) Rather, I submitted an appellate brief for the Center for Public Representation on behalf of all Wisconsin consumers in accordance with civil rules. I undertook this work as a volunteer attorney and invested perhaps $20,000 of my time in each case. In each appeal, the Wisconsin consumer won.
 

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