Lemon laws in Florida are laws that provide protection to consumers by bounding their vehicles to fall into certain limits according to the standards of quality and performance. These laws prevent them from violating such standards. Lemon laws are not necessarily applicable to the used or leased vehicles.
Seipp & Flick LLP
- Seipp & Flick LLP
- The Knight Law Firm
- Law Office of Harvey M. Alper
- Title XXXIX, Chapter 681
- 681.10-Short Title
- 681.101-Legislative Intent
- 681.103-Duty OF Manufacturer to Conform a Motor Vehicle to the Warranty
- 681.104-Nonconformity of Motor Vehicles
- 681.106-Bad Faith Claims
- 681.108-Dispute Settlement Procedures
- 681.109-Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board; Dispute Eligibility
- 681.1095-Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board; Creation and Function
- 681.1096-Pilot RV Mediation And Arbitration Program; Creation And Qualifications
- 681.1097-Pilot RV Mediation and Arbitration Program; dispute eligibility and program function
- 681.110-Compliance and Disciplinary Actions
- 681.111-Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practice
- 681.112-Consumer Remedies
- 681.113-Dealer Liability
- 681.114-Resale of Returned Vehicles
- 681.115-Certain Agreements Void
Seipp & Flick LLP is located at Two Alhambra Plaza, Suite 800, Miami, Florida. The firm was established in 1995 and now comprised of eighteen highly-qualified legal representatives who offer exquisite services in numerous areas of law. Amongst these members, Frank David Hosley, Jon J. Hernan and Richard Spence are Florida lemon law attorneys. Attorney Frank David Hosley earned a degree of Jurisprudence from University of Florida in 1995 and joined Florida and U.S. District Court, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, the next year. He currently holds memberships of Orange County and American Bar Associations, The Florida Bar and Defense Research Institute. On the other side, Mr. Jon J. Hernan did his J.D. from Florida State University in 2003 and started his professional career by admitting to Florida and U.S. District Court, Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida and District of Columbia. He is a member of Orange County and American Bar Associations and Defense Research Institute.
Attorney Richard Spence is also an honorable law graduate of University of Florida. After earning his J.D. in 1999, he was admitted to Florida and U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, U.S. District Court, Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is a member of Orange County and American Bar Associations.
Areas of Practice
- Lemon Law
- Commercial Litigation
- Construction Litigation
- Products Liability Defense
- Warranty Law
Attorney Jefferson P. Knight founded this firm in 1992. It is located at 999 Ponce de Leon Boulevard Suite 510, Coral Gables, Florida. The firm has set its spotlight on California lemon laws thus making him one of the famous Florida lemon law attorneys. Mr. Knight completed his education in law from University of Miami in 1981 and was admitted to the bar in Florida, U.S. District Court, Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Florida, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court. His clients include businesses and individuals as well as families.
Areas of Practice
- Lemon Law
- Business Law
- Aviation Law
- International Law
- Corporate Law
- Commercial Litigation
The Law Office of Harvey M. Alper is sited at 516 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1106, Altamonte Springs, Florida. Attorney Harvey Alper is the sole member of this law firm. He is not only a Florida lemon law attorney but pays equal attention and offers distinguished services in other areas of law as well. He graduated in law from University of Florida in 1971 and joined bar, the same year. At present he is a member of The Florida Bar.
Areas of Practice
- Lemon Law
- Education Law
- General Practice
- Wills and Probate
- Planning and Land Use
- Business Law
Florida Lemon Law
Title XXXIX, Chapter 681
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act.”
History.–s. 1, ch. 83-69; s. 1, ch. 85-240; s. 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
The law enforcement authorities acknowledge that a motor vehicle is a major consumer purchase but if such vehicle is defective then it becomes a hardship for the consumer. The Legislature further recognizes that an authorized dealer of the manufacturer is entitled to fix the nonconformities of a vehicle within the specified warranty period. It also provides the statutory procedures through which a consumer can receive a replacement or a refund. However, nothing in this chapter shall in any way limit or expand the rights which are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.
History.–s. 2, ch. 83-69; s. 1, ch. 84-55; ss. 1, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 1, ch. 97-245.
As used in this chapter, the term:
- “Authorized service agent” is a person authorized by the manufacturer for the sale and repair of vehicles or who is authorized to service motor vehicles.
- “Board” means the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board.
- “Collateral charges” are the charges incurred to acquire the motor vehicle which includes manufacturer-installed or agent-installed items or service charges, earned finance charges, sales taxes, and title charges.
- “Consumer” is,
- A person who pays a handsome amount to purchase a vehicle for personal, family, or household use
- A person to whom the ownership of the car or any other vehicle is transferred
- Who is entitled to enforce the obligations of the warranty
- “Days” means calendar days.
- “Department” means the Department of Legal Affairs.
- “Division” means the Division of Consumer Services of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
- “Incidental charges” means those charges to the consumer which are directly incurred due to the nonconformity of the motor vehicle.
- “Lease price” means the aggregate of,
- The purchasing price
- Lessor’s earned rent charges through the date of repurchase
- Collateral charges
- Any fee paid to another to obtain the lease
- Any insurance or other costs expended by the lessor for the benefit of the lessee
- An amount equal to state and local sales taxes, not otherwise included as collateral charges, paid by the lessor when the vehicle was initially purchased.
- “Lemon Law rights period” is a time period of 24 months from the date of delivery of the vehicle.
- “Lessee” means any consumer who leases a motor vehicle for 1 year or more pursuant to a written lease agreement which provides that the lessee is responsible for repairs to such motor vehicle or any consumer who leases a motor vehicle pursuant to a lease-purchase agreement.
- “Lessee cost” is the amount paid to the lessor against the leased vehicle but excludes debt from any other transaction.
- “Lessor” means,
- A person who leases a motor vehicle
- A person who holds title to a motor vehicle that is leased to a lessee under a written lease agreement.
- “Manufacturer” is a person,
- Who is engaged in the business of transforming the raw material into finished motor vehicle
- Who manufactures or assembles motor vehicles
- Who installs bodies on previously assembled truck
- “Motor vehicle” is,
- A self-propelled private passenger vehicle, including pickup trucks and vans, used to travel from one destination to another on the public highways and used to carry not more than ten persons
- A vehicle with a gross vehicle weight under 10,000 pounds that is bought or used primarily for business purposes by a person, including a partnership, limited liability company, corporation, association, or any other legal entity, to which not more than five motor vehicles are registered in this state
- “Nonconformity” means any defect or condition that impairs the use, value, or safety of a motor vehicle.
- “Procedure” is an informal dispute-settlement procedure established by a manufacturer to mediate and arbitrate motor vehicle warranty disputes.
- “Program” means the mediation and arbitration pilot program for recreational vehicles established in this chapter.
- “Purchase price” means the cash paid to acquire an asset inclusive of any allowance for a trade-in vehicle, but excludes debt from any other transaction.
- “Reasonable offset for use” means the number of miles attributable to a consumer up to the date of a settlement agreement or arbitration hearing, whichever occurs first, multiplied by the purchase price of the vehicle and divided by 120,000, except in the case of a recreational vehicle, in which event it shall be divided by 60,000.
- “Recreational vehicle” is an equipment dually used as both, a vehicle and a traveling home or even a full fledge home. It can be used from leisure or recreational activities like, camping to permanent living.
- “Replacement motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle which is of equal value and is of same capacity to be replaced, as the motor vehicle replaced existed at the time of the original acquisition.
- “Warranty” is the warranty specified by the manufacturer or dealer assuring that the vehicle doesn’t have any defect or in case any defect arises, the manufacturer would be responsible for its repair.
- Incase, if a motor vehicle is defective and the consumer informed the manufacturer or dealer within the lemon law rights period, then, the manufacturer or repairing agent is liable to fix those nonconformities with any cost. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to grant an extension of the Lemon Law rights period or to expand the time within which a consumer must file a claim under this chapter.
- It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to give the address and contact number for its zone, district, or regional office for this state in the written warranty to the consumer. By January 1 of each year, each manufacturer shall forward to the Department of Legal Affairs a copy of the owner’s manual and any written warranty for each make and model of motor vehicle that it sells in this state.
- According to section 681.103 of Florida lemon laws, “the manufacturer, at the time of acquisition, shall inform the consumer clearly and conspicuously in writing how and where to file a claim with a certified procedure if such procedure has been established by the manufacturer pursuant to s. 681.108. The nameplate manufacturer of a recreational vehicle shall, at the time of vehicle acquisition, inform the consumer clearly and conspicuously in writing how and where to file a claim with a program pursuant to s. 681.1096. The manufacturer shall provide to the dealer and, at the time of acquisition, the dealer shall provide to the consumer a written statement that explains the consumer’s rights under this chapter. The written statement shall be prepared by the Department of Legal Affairs and shall contain a toll-free number for the division that the consumer can contact to obtain information regarding the consumer’s rights and obligations under this chapter or to commence arbitration. If the manufacturer obtains a signed receipt for timely delivery of sufficient quantities of this written statement to meet the dealer’s vehicle sales requirements, it shall constitute prima facie evidence of compliance with this subsection by the manufacturer. The consumer’s signed acknowledgment of receipt of materials required under this subsection shall constitute prima facie evidence of compliance by the manufacturer and dealer. The form of the acknowledgments shall be approved by the Department of Legal Affairs, and the dealer shall maintain the consumer’s signed acknowledgment for 3 years”.
- Every time when the vehicle is brought to the repair center, the manufacturer must provide a written statement to the consumer indicating a general description of the problem reported by the consumer or an identification of the defect or condition, parts and labor, the date and the odometer reading when the motor vehicle was submitted for examination or repair, and the date when the repair or examination was completed.
- As stated in Florida lemon laws, “after three attempts have been made to repair the same nonconformity, the consumer shall give written notification, by registered or express mail to the manufacturer, of the need to repair the nonconformity to allow the manufacturer a final attempt to cure the nonconformity. The manufacturer shall have 10 days, commencing upon receipt of such notification, to respond and give the consumer the opportunity to have the motor vehicle repaired at a reasonably accessible repair facility within a reasonable time after the consumer’s receipt of the response. The manufacturer shall have 10 days, except in the case of a recreational vehicle, in which event the manufacturer shall have 45 days, commencing upon the delivery of the motor vehicle to the designated repair facility by the consumer, to conform the motor vehicle to the warranty. If the manufacturer fails to respond to the consumer and give the consumer the opportunity to have the motor vehicle repaired at a reasonably accessible repair facility or perform the repairs within the time periods prescribed in this subsection, the requirement that the manufacturer be given a final attempt to cure the nonconformity does not apply”.
- If a manufacturer holds a vehicle for the purpose of repair for a cumulative total of 15 or more days, not for routine maintenance, the consumer shall so notify the manufacturer in writing by registered or express mail to give the manufacturer or its authorized service agent an opportunity to inspect or repair the vehicle.
- If the manufacturer fails in repairing the nonconformities of the motor vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer, within 40 days should refund the full purchase price less a reasonable offset for use, or replace the motor vehicle with a replacement motor vehicle acceptable to the consumer.
- As fixed by Florida lemon laws, the lessee shall receive the lessee cost and the lessor shall receive the lease price less the lessee cost. A penalty for early lease termination may not be assessed against a lessee who receives a replacement motor vehicle or refund under this chapter. The Department of Revenue shall refund to the manufacturer any sales tax which the manufacturer refunded to the consumer, lienholder, or lessor under this section, if the manufacturer provides to the department a written request for a refund and evidence that the sales tax was paid when the vehicle was purchased and that the manufacturer refunded the sales tax to the consumer, lienholder, or lessor.
- It is presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform a motor vehicle to the warranty if, during the Lemon Law rights period, either:
- The manufacturer has attempted the repairs four times but the nonconformity still exists.
- The motor vehicle is in custody of a manufacturer or repairing agent for repair purpose for a cumulative total of 30 or more days, and in case of a recreational vehicle 60 or more days. This period is subject to change due to war, invasion, strike, fire, flood, or natural disaster.
- It is an affirmative defense to any claim under this chapter that:
- The alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the motor vehicle;
- The nonconformity is the result of an accident, abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the motor vehicle by persons other than the manufacturer or its authorized service agent; or
- The claim by the consumer was not filed in good faith.
If a consumer has filed a case in bad faith or without any legal fact, then, the consumer will be liable to pay all the costs incurred by the manufacturer including attorney’s fees.
History.–s. 6, ch. 83-69; s. 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
- According to section 681.108 of Florida lemon laws, “if a manufacturer has established a procedure, which the division has certified as substantially complying with the provisions of 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983, and with the provisions of this chapter and the rules adopted under this chapter, and has informed the consumer how and where to file a claim with such procedure pursuant to s. 681.103(3), the provisions of s. 681.104(2) apply to the consumer only if the consumer has first resorted to such procedure. The decision-makers for a certified procedure shall, in rendering decisions, take into account all legal and equitable factors germane to a fair and just decision, including, but not limited to, the warranty; the rights and remedies conferred under 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983; the provisions of this chapter; and any other equitable considerations appropriate under the circumstances. Decision-makers and staff of a procedure shall be trained in the provisions of this chapter and in 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983. In an action brought by a consumer concerning an alleged nonconformity, the decision that results from a certified procedure is admissible in evidence”.
- A manufacturer may apply to the division for certification of its procedure. After receipt and evaluation of the application, the division shall certify the procedure or notify the manufacturer of any deficiencies in the application or the procedure.
- A certified procedure or a procedure of an applicant seeking certification shall submit to the division a copy of each settlement approved by the procedure or decision made by a decision-maker within 30 days after the settlement is reached or the decision is rendered. The decision or settlement must contain at a minimum the:
- Name and address of the consumer
- Name of the manufacturer and address of the dealership from which the motor vehicle was purchased
- Date the claim was received and the location of the procedure office that handled the claim
- Relief requested by the consumer
- Name of each decision-maker rendering the decision or person approving the settlement
- Statement of the terms of the settlement or decision
- Date of the settlement or decision
- Statement of whether the decision was accepted or rejected by the consumer.
- Any manufacturer setting up a certified procedure must file with the division a copy of the annual audit required under the provisions of 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983, together with any additional information required for purposes of certification, including the number of refunds and replacements made in this state pursuant to the provisions of this chapter by the manufacturer during the period audited.
- The division shall review each certified procedure at least annually, prepare an annual report evaluating the operation of certified procedures established by motor vehicle manufacturers and procedures of applicants seeking certification, and, for a period not to exceed 1 year, shall grant certification to, or renew certification for, those manufacturers whose procedures substantially comply with the provisions of 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983, and with the provisions of this chapter and rules adopted under this chapter. If certification is revoked or denied, the division shall state the reasons for such action. The reports and records of actions taken with respect to certification shall be public records.
- A manufacturer whose certification is denied or revoked is entitled to a hearing pursuant to chapter 120.
- If federal preemption of state authority to regulate procedures occurs, the provisions of subsection (1) concerning prior resort do not apply.
- The division shall adopt rules to implement this section.
History.–s. 7, ch. 83-69; s. 4, ch. 84-55; s. 5, ch. 85-240; ss. 5, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 17, ch. 91-110; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 5, ch. 92-88.
- As stated in Section 681.109 of Florida lemon laws, “if a manufacturer has a certified procedure, a consumer claim arising during the Lemon Law rights period must be filed with the certified procedure no later than 60 days after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period. If a decision is not rendered by the certified procedure within 40 days of filing, the consumer may apply to the division to have the dispute removed to the board for arbitration”.
- In case, if a manufacturer has a certified procedure and a consumer claim arises within the lemon law rights period, then, the consumer should file the claim within 60 days after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period. The consumer may apply to the division to have the dispute submitted to the board for arbitration if s/he is not satisfied with the decision.
- If a manufacturer has no certified procedure, a consumer may apply directly to the division to have the dispute submitted to the board for arbitration.
- A consumer must request arbitration before the board with respect to a claim arising during the Lemon Law rights period no later than 60 days after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period, or within 30 days after the final action of a certified procedure, whichever date occurs later.
- The division shall screen all requests for arbitration before the board to determine eligibility. The consumer’s request for arbitration before the board shall be made on a form prescribed by the department. The division shall forward to the board all disputes that the division determines are potentially entitled to relief under this chapter.
- The division may reject a dispute that it determines to be fraudulent or outside the scope of the board’s authority. Any dispute deemed by the division to be ineligible for arbitration by the board due to insufficient evidence may be reconsidered upon the submission of new information regarding the dispute. Following a second review, the division may reject a dispute if the evidence is clearly insufficient to qualify for relief. Any dispute rejected by the division shall be forwarded to the department and a copy shall be sent by registered mail to the consumer and the manufacturer, containing a brief explanation as to the reason for rejection.
- If the division rejects a dispute, the consumer may file a lawsuit to enforce the remedies provided under this chapter. In any civil action arising under this chapter and relating to a matter considered by the division, any determination made to reject a dispute is admissible in evidence.
- The department shall have the authority to adopt reasonable rules to carry out the provisions of this section.
History.–ss. 6, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 6, ch. 92-88; s. 5, ch. 97-245.
- Department of Legal Affairs has established a department, the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board and the members are selected by the Attorney General for an initial term of 1 year. Each board member is accountable to the Attorney General for the performance of the member’s duties and is exempt from civil liability for any act or omission which occurs while acting in the member’s official capacity. The Department of Legal Affairs shall defend a member in any action against the member or the board which arises from any such act or omission. The Attorney General may establish as many regions of the board as necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
- For the convenience of public, the board hears cases in various locations throughout the state for arbitration. The panel consists of three board members appointed by the department. A majority vote of the three-member board panel shall be required to render a decision. Arbitration proceedings under this section shall be open to the public on reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms.
- There are eight members in each region of the board. The Department of Legal Affairs assigns an administrator and a secretary. At least one member of each board must be a person with expertise in motor vehicle mechanics. The manufacturer or decision-maker cannot appoint any member of the board. Board members shall be trained in the application of this chapter and any rules adopted under this chapter, shall be reimbursed for travel expenses pursuant to s. 112.061, and shall be compensated at a rate or wage prescribed by the Attorney General.
- If such dispute is deemed eligible for arbitration, the consumer must first submit the dispute to the division and to the board before filing a civil action.
- Manufacturers shall submit to arbitration conducted by the board if such arbitration is requested by a consumer and the dispute is deemed eligible for arbitration by the division pursuant to s. 681.109.
- The board shall hear the dispute within 40 days and within 60 days makes a decision. The Department of Legal Affairs, at the board’s request, may investigate disputes, and may issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and for the production of records, documents, and other evidence before the board. The failure of the board to hear a dispute or render a decision within the prescribed periods does not invalidate the decision.
- At the proceedings of arbitration, the parties may present oral and written testimony, witnesses and evidence relevant to the dispute. The board may administer oaths or affirmations to witnesses and inspect the vehicle if requested by a party or if the board deems such inspection appropriate.
- The board shall award a relief, if a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to correct nonconformities.
- The judgment of the board shall be sent by registered mail to the consumer and the manufacturer, and shall contain written findings of fact and rationale for the decision. If the decision is in favor of the consumer, the manufacturer must, within 40 days after receipt of the decision, comply with the terms of the decision. Compliance occurs on the date the consumer receives delivery of an acceptable replacement motor vehicle or the refund specified in the arbitration award. In any civil action arising under this chapter and relating to a dispute arbitrated before the board, any decision by the board is admissible in evidence.
- According to Florida lemon laws, “a decision is final unless appealed by either party. A petition to the circuit court to appeal a decision must be made within 30 days after receipt of the decision. The petition shall be filed in the county where the consumer resides, or where the motor vehicle was acquired, or where the arbitration hearing was conducted. Within 7 days after the petition has been filed, the appealing party must send a copy of the petition to the department. If the department does not receive notice of such petition within 40 days after the manufacturer’s receipt of a decision in favor of the consumer, and the manufacturer has neither complied with, nor has petitioned to appeal such decision, the department may apply to the circuit court to seek imposition of a fine up to $1,000 per day against the manufacturer until the amount stands at twice the purchase price of the motor vehicle, unless the manufacturer provides clear and convincing evidence that the delay or failure was beyond its control or was acceptable to the consumer as evidenced by a written statement signed by the consumer. If the manufacturer fails to provide such evidence or fails to pay the fine, the department shall initiate proceedings against the manufacturer for failure to pay such fine. The proceeds from the fine herein imposed shall be placed in the Motor Vehicle Warranty Trust Fund in the department for implementation and enforcement of this chapter. If the manufacturer fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection, the court shall affirm the award upon application by the consumer”.
- All provisions of s. 681.1095 and s. 681.109 pertaining to compulsory arbitration before the board are exempt from the provisions of chapter 120.
- An appeal of a decision by the board to the circuit court by a consumer or a manufacturer shall be by the beginning of the trial. In a written petition to appeal a decision by the board, the appealing party must state the action requested and the grounds relied upon for appeal. Within 30 days of final disposition of the appeal, the appealing party shall furnish the department with notice of such disposition and, upon request, shall furnish the department with a copy of the order or judgment of the court.
- If a decision of the board in favor of the consumer is upheld by the court, recovery by the consumer shall include the pecuniary value of the award, attorney’s fees incurred in obtaining confirmation of the award, and all costs and continuing damages in the amount of $25 per day for each day beyond the 40-day period following the manufacturer’s receipt of the board’s decision. If a court determines that the manufacturer acted in bad faith in bringing the appeal or brought the appeal solely for the purpose of harassment or in complete absence of a justiciable issue of law or fact, the court shall double, and may triple, the amount of the total award.
- When a judgment affirms a decision by the board in favor of a consumer, appellate review may be conditioned upon payment by the manufacturer of the consumer’s attorney’s fees and giving security for costs and expenses resulting from the review period.
- It’s the duty of the department to maintain records of each dispute and the program, including an index of motor vehicles by year, make, and model, and shall compile aggregate annual statistics for all disputes submitted to and the number and percent of:
- Replacement motor vehicle requests
- Purchase price refund requests
- Replacement motor vehicles obtained in pre-hearing settlements
- Purchase price refunds obtained in pre-hearing settlements
- Replacement motor vehicles awarded in arbitration
- Purchase price refunds awarded in arbitration
- Board decisions neither complied with in 40 days nor petitioned for appeal within 30 days
- Board decisions appealed
- Appeals affirmed by the court
- Appeals found by the court to be brought in bad faith or solely for the purpose of harassment.
- When requested by the department, a manufacturer must verify the settlement terms for disputes that are approved for arbitration but are not decided by the board.
History.–ss. 7, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 18, ch. 91-110; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 7, ch. 92-88; s. 55, ch.95-211; s. 6, ch. 97-245.
- This section and s. 681.1097 shall apply to disputes determined eligible under this chapter involving recreational vehicles acquired on or after October 1, 1997, and shall remain in effect until September 30, 2006, at which time recreational vehicle disputes shall be subject to the provisions of ss. 681.109 and 681.1095. The Attorney General shall report to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of each house of the Legislature, and appropriate legislative committees regarding the effectiveness of the pilot program.
- Each manufacturer of a recreational vehicle involved in a dispute that is determined eligible under this chapter, including chassis and component manufacturers which separately warrant the chassis and components and which otherwise meet the definition of manufacturer set forth in s. 681.102, shall participate in a mediation and arbitration program that is deemed qualified by the department.
- In order to be deemed qualified by the department, the mediation and arbitration program must, at a minimum, meet the following requirements:
- The program must be administered by an administrator and staff that is sufficiently insulated from the manufacturer to ensure impartial mediation and arbitration services.
- Program administration fees must be paid by the manufacturer and no such fees shall be charged to a consumer.
- The program must be adequately staffed at a level sufficient to ensure the provision of fair and expeditious dispute resolution services.
- Program mediators and arbitrators must be sufficiently insulated from a manufacturer to ensure the provision of impartial mediation and arbitration of disputes.
- Program mediators and arbitrators shall not be employed by a manufacturer or a motor vehicle dealer.
- Program mediators must complete a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit or county mediation training program, or other mediation training program approved by the department, in addition to a minimum of one-half day of training on this chapter conducted by the department.
- Program mediators must comply with the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators issued by the American Arbitration Association, the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association, and the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution.
- Program arbitrators must complete a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit or county arbitration program, or other arbitration training program approved by the department, in addition to a minimum of 1 day of training in the application of this chapter and any rules adopted thereunder conducted by the department.
- Program arbitrators must comply with the Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes published by the American Arbitration Association and the American Bar Association in 1977 and as amended.
- Program arbitrators must construe and apply the provisions of this chapter and rules adopted thereunder in making decisions.
- The program must complete all mediation and arbitration of an eligible consumer claim within 70 days of the program administrator’s receipt of the claim from the department. Failure of the program to complete all proceedings within the prescribed period will not invalidate any settlement agreement or arbitration decision.
- Mediation conferences and arbitration proceedings must be held at reasonably convenient locations within the state so as to enable a consumer to attend and present a dispute orally.
- The department shall monitor the program for compliance with this chapter. If the program is determined not qualified or if qualification is revoked, then the involved manufacturer shall be required to submit to arbitration conducted by the board if such arbitration is requested by a consumer and the dispute is deemed eligible for arbitration by the division pursuant to s. 681.109.
- If a program is determined not qualified or if qualification is revoked, the involved manufacturer shall be notified by the department of any deficiencies in the program and informed that it is entitled to a hearing pursuant to chapter 120.
- The program administrator, mediators, and arbitrators are exempt from civil liability arising from any act or omission in connection with any mediation or arbitration conducted under this chapter.
- The program administrator shall maintain records of each dispute submitted to the program, including the recordings of arbitration hearings. All records maintained by the program under this chapter shall be public records and shall be available for inspection by the department upon reasonable notice. The records for disputes closed as of September 30 of each year shall be turned over to the department by the program administrator by no later than October 30 of the same year, unless a later date is specified by the department.
- The department should have the right to adopt reasonable rules to carry out the provisions of this section.
History.–s. 7, ch. 97-245; s. 33, ch. 2001-196; s. 2, ch. 2002-71; s. 21, ch. 2002-235.
- Incase of recreational vehicle, a consumer must submit the dispute first to the department before filing a civil action, and then to the program, if the dispute is deemed eligible.
- A consumer acquiring a recreational vehicle must apply to participate in this program with respect to a claim arising during the Lemon Law rights period by filing the application in subsection with the department no later than 60 days after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period.
- The consumer must apply for participation in the program through a form approved by the department. After screening all the applications, the department shall forward to the program administrator all applications the department determines are potentially entitled to relief under this chapter if,
- The department determines the application lacks sufficient information to determine the eligibility, the department shall request additional information from the consumer
- The department has the right to reject any application if it determines to be fraudulent or outside the scope of this chapter
- The consumer and the manufacturer shall be notified in writing by the department if an application is rejected along with the reason of rejection
- If incase the department rejects a dispute, the consumer may file a lawsuit to enforce the remedies provided under this chapter
- The department may delegate responsibility for the screening of claims to the program, in which event claims filed with the department shall be forwarded to the program administrator and the provisions of this section shall apply to claims screened by the program.
- The law declares mediation a mandatory process for both the parties, unless the dispute is settled prior to the scheduled mediation conference. Participation shall be limited to the parties directly involved in the dispute and their attorneys, if any. All manufacturers shall be represented by persons with settlement authority,
- On the receipt of a legal application, the program administrator notifies the consumer and manufacturer in writing that an eligible application has been received. Such notification includes a schedule of mediation conference, the assigned mediator, and provides information regarding the program’s procedures.
- The program administrator selects the mediator.
- The mediator shall assist the parties’ efforts to reach a mutually acceptable settlement of their dispute; however, the mediator shall not impose any settlement upon the parties.
- Whether the dispute has been settled or not, the mediator shall notify the program administrator. The program administrator shall notify the department in writing of the outcome of the mediation.
- Upon the failure of mediation, it shall proceed to arbitration pursuant to subsection (5). The program administrator shall immediately notify the parties in writing that the dispute will proceed to arbitration and shall identify the assigned arbitrator.
- If the parties enter into a settlement at any time after the dispute has been submitted to the program, such settlement must be reduced to writing, signed by the consumer and all involved manufacturers, and filed with the program administrator. The program administrator shall send a copy to the department. All settlements must contain, at a minimum, the following information:
- Name and address of the consumer
- Name and address of each involved manufacturer
- Year, make, model, and vehicle identification number of the subject recreational vehicle
- Name and address of the dealership from which the recreational vehicle was acquired
- Date the claim was received by the program administrator
- Name of the mediator and/or arbitrator, if any
- Statement of the terms of the agreement.
- If a manufacturer fails to perform within the time required in any settlement agreement, the consumer must notify the program administrator of such failure in writing within 10 days of the required performance date. Within 10 days of receipt of such notice, the program administrator shall notify the department of the manufacturer’s failure in compliance and shall schedule the matter for an arbitration hearing pursuant to subsection (5).
- If the mediation ends in a stalemate, the program administrator shall schedule an arbitration hearing. Arbitration proceedings shall be open to the public on reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms.
- The arbitrator will be assigned by the program administrator. The arbitrator shall not be the same person as the mediator. Both the parties have the right to object to an arbitrator based on the arbitrator’s past or present relationship with a party. If the objection is determined valid, the program administrator shall assign another arbitrator to the case.
- The arbitrator may issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and for the production of records, documents, and other evidence. Subpoenas so issued shall be served and, upon application to the court by a party to the arbitration, enforced in the manner provided by law for the service and enforcement of subpoenas in civil actions. Fees for attendance as a witness shall be the same as for a witness in the circuit court.
- At all program arbitration proceedings, the parties may present oral and written testimony, present witnesses and evidence relevant to the dispute, cross-examine witnesses, and be represented by counsel. The arbitrator shall record the arbitration hearing and shall have the power to administer oaths. The arbitrator may inspect the vehicle if requested by a party or if the arbitrator considers such inspection appropriate.
- The program arbitrator may continue a hearing on his or her own motion or upon the request of a party for good cause shown. A request for continuance by the consumer constitutes a waiver of the time period set forth in s. 681.1096(3)(k) for completion of all proceedings under the program.
- if the manufacturer fails to perform according to the settlement terms, any relief to the consumer granted by the arbitration will be no less than the relief agreed to by the manufacturer in the settlement agreement.
- The arbitrator shall grant relief if a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to correct nonconformities.
- The program arbitrator shall render a decision within 10 days of the closing of the hearing. The decision shall be in writing on a form prescribed or approved by the department. The program administrator shall send a copy of the decision to the consumer and each involved manufacturer by registered mail. The program administrator shall also send a copy of the decision to the department within 5 days of mailing to the parties.
- As stated in s. 681.1097 of Florida lemon laws, “a manufacturer shall comply with an arbitration decision within 40 days of the date the manufacturer receives the written decision. Compliance occurs on the date the consumer receives delivery of an acceptable replacement motor vehicle or the refund specified in the arbitration award. If a manufacturer fails to comply within the time required, the consumer must notify the program administrator in writing within 10 days. The program administrator shall notify the department of a manufacturer’s failure to comply. The department shall have the authority to enforce compliance with arbitration decisions under this section in the same manner as is provided for enforcement of compliance with board decisions under s. 681.1095(10). In any civil action arising under this chapter and relating to a dispute arbitrated pursuant to this section, the decision of the arbitrator is admissible in evidence”.
- Any party may request the arbitrator to make a technical correction to the decision by filing a written request with the program administrator within 10 days after receipt of the written decision.
- Except as otherwise provided, all provisions in this section pertaining to mandatory mediation and arbitration, eligibility screening, mediation proceedings, arbitration hearings and decisions, and any appeals thereof are exempt from the provisions of chapter 120.
- According to Florida lemon laws, “a decision of the arbitrator is binding unless appealed by either party by filing a petition with the circuit court within the time and in the manner prescribed by s. 681.1095(10) and (12). Section 681.1095(13) and (14) apply to appeals filed under this section. If a decision of a program arbitrator in favor of a consumer is confirmed by the court, recovery by the consumer shall include the pecuniary value of the award, attorney’s fees incurred in obtaining confirmation of the award, and all costs and continuing damages in the amount of $25 per day for each day beyond the 40-day period following a manufacturer’s receipt of the arbitrator’s decision. If a court determines the manufacturer acted in bad faith in bringing the appeal or brought the appeal solely for the purpose of harassment, or in complete absence of a justiciable issue of law or fact, the court shall double, and may triple, the amount of the total award”.
- The department shall have the authority to adopt reasonable rules to carry out the provisions of this section.
History.–s. 8, ch. 97-245; s. 34, ch. 2001-196; s. 3, ch. 2002-71; s. 22, ch. 2002-235.
The Department of Legal Affairs is entitled to impose and guarantee conformity with the restrictions of this chapter and rules adopted thereunder, may issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of witnesses and production of evidence, and may seek relief in the circuit court to compel compliance with such subpoenas. The Department of Legal Affairs may impose a civil penalty against a manufacturer not to exceed $1,000 for each count or separate offense. The proceeds from the fine imposed herein shall be placed in the Motor Vehicle Warranty Trust Fund in the Department of Legal Affairs for implementation and enforcement of this chapter.
History.–s. 6, ch. 85-240; ss. 8, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
A violation by a manufacturer of this chapter is an unfair or deceptive trade practice as defined in Florida lemon laws part II of chapter 501.
History.–s. 7, ch. 85-240; ss. 9, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
- The law gives right to the consumer to file an action to recover damages caused by a violation of this chapter. The court shall grant the amount of any pecuniary loss, litigation costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, and appropriate equitable relief.
- An action brought under this chapter must be commenced within 1 year after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period, or, if a consumer resorts to an informal dispute-settlement procedure or submits a dispute to the division or board, within 1 year after the final action of the procedure, division, or board.
- This chapter does not prohibit a consumer from pursuing other rights or remedies under any other law.
History.–ss. 10, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
Section 681.113 of Florida lemon laws states that “except as provided in ss. 681.103(3) and 681.114(2), nothing in this chapter imposes any liability on a dealer as defined in s. 320.60(11)(a) or creates a cause of action by a consumer against a dealer, except for written express warranties made by the dealer apart from the manufacturer’s warranties. A dealer may not be made a party defendant in any action involving or relating to this chapter, except as provided in this section. The manufacturer shall not charge back or require reimbursement by the dealer for any costs, including, but not limited to, any refunds or vehicle replacements, incurred by the manufacturer arising out of this chapter, in the absence of evidence that the related repairs had been carried out by the dealer in a manner substantially inconsistent with the manufacturer’s published instructions”.
History.–ss. 11, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 9, ch. 97-245.
- A manufacturer must notify the return of a vehicle to the department and report the vehicle identification number of that motor vehicle within 10 days after such acceptance, transfer, or disposal of the vehicle, whichever happens later.
- A person shall not knowingly lease, sell at wholesale or retail, or transfer a title to a motor vehicle returned by reason of a settlement, determination, or decision pursuant to this chapter or similar statute of another state unless the nature of the nonconformity is clearly and conspicuously disclosed to the prospective transferee, lessee, or buyer, and the manufacturer warrants to correct such nonconformity for a term of 1 year or 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first. The Department of Legal Affairs shall prescribe by rule the form, content, and procedure pertaining to such disclosure statement.
History.–ss. 12, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 8, ch. 92-88; s. 10, ch. 97-245.
Any agreement entered into by a consumer that waives, limits, or disclaims the rights set forth in this chapter, or that requires a consumer not to disclose the terms of such agreement as a condition thereof, is void as contrary to public policy. The rights set forth in this chapter shall extend to a subsequent transferee of such motor vehicle.
History.–ss. 13, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 9, ch. 92-88; s. 35, ch. 2001-196.
This chapter preempts any similar county or municipal ordinance regarding consumer warranty rights resulting from the acquisition of a motor vehicle in this state.
History.–ss. 14, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
- Florida lemon laws clearly state that “a $2 fee shall be collected by a motor vehicle dealer, or by a person engaged in the business of leasing motor vehicles, from the consumer at the consummation of the sale of a motor vehicle or at the time of entry into a lease agreement for a motor vehicle. Such fees shall be remitted to the county tax collector or private tag agency acting as agent for the Department of Revenue. If the purchaser or lessee removes the motor vehicle from the state for titling and registration outside this state, the fee shall be remitted to the Department of Revenue. All fees, less the cost of administration, shall be transferred monthly to the Department of Legal Affairs for deposit into the Motor Vehicle Warranty Trust Fund. The Department of Legal Affairs shall distribute monthly an amount not exceeding one-fourth of the fees received to the Division of Consumer Services of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to carry out the provisions of ss. 681.108 and 681.109. The Department of Legal Affairs shall contract with the Division of Consumer Services for payment of services performed by the division pursuant to ss. 681.108 and 681.109”.
- The Department of Revenue is authorized for the collection, administration and enforcement of the fee authorized under this section pursuant to the provisions of chapter 212. The fee shall not be included in the computation of estimated taxes pursuant to s. 212.11(1)(a), nor shall the dealer’s credit provided under s. 212.12 apply to the fee.