Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Lending companies have taken advantage of Michigan's poorest residents for years. They rely on the fact that most people don't know lending laws and don't hire a consumer protection lawyer when they are the victim of collections harassment. But now, Internet companies like Liquidation, LLC, have taken that harassment to a new level. Their auto title loans leave residents with huge debts while depriving them of their most valuable asset – their car.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Have you ever been tempted by a short-term loan with no credit check “and you get to keep your car”? Don't get sucked in by an illegal auto title loan. Michigan is fighting back against them and you can help!
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Detroit is buzzing with the excitement of the annual North American International Auto Show. Volkswagen is wooing customers with concept cars and the newest models. But behind the scenes, the company is still dodging settlements to protect the very consumers they are chasing.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Takata, the company that made airbags for Honda and other auto manufacturers, was in hot water throughout 2015 as regulators and legislators held them under the microscope for airbag defects. Now a private lawsuit has revealed emails showing the company engaged in blatant data manipulation about the safety of their products.
In 2015, Takata faced legislative hearings, regulatory investigations, and ultimately fines because airbags it made explode, sending shrapnel into the passenger cabin. Takata airbag defects have killed 8 people and injured hundreds more.
All of this culminated in November 2015 when Honda fired Takata and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) imposed a $70 million penalty on the company. Both entities listed data manipulation as a reason for their behavior.
But evidence of Takata's manipulation of mandatory safety data had never been public before. That is, until a Florida woman sued the company for a 2014 accident. The aggressive deployment of the Takata airbag left her paralyzed. In investigating her private lawsuit, the plaintiff's lawyers discovered emails that showed how deeply data manipulation was ingrained in Takata's corporate policy. Those emails were unsealed and shared with the New York Times, who hired experts to review them.
Back in 2005 Takata airbag engineer Bob Schubert had reported in an internal memo that he had been “repeatedly exposed to the Japanese practice of altering data presented to the customer,” which the business called “the way we do business in Japan.”
But one year later, Schubert was encouraging fellow employees to engage in data manipulation himself, saying “Happy Manipulating!!!” The Times reported:
“Hey, I manipulated,” Mr. Schubert responded. The objective, he said, was to help disguise that some of the inflaters performed differently from the rest — a dynamic referred to as “bimodal distribution.”“I showed all the data together, which helped disguise the bimodal distribution,” Mr. Schubert wrote. “Nothing wrong with that. All the data is there. Every piece,” he added. But then he suggested using “thick and thin lines to try and dress it up, or changing colors to divert attention.”
But Linda Rink, a former senior staff scientist for airbag manufacturer Autoliv, disagreed that nothing was wrong with manipulating data to hide problems with performance:
“If they would disguise inflater data sent to the customer, there is a serious problem with ethics within that company,” she said. “Having a bimodal distribution requires an explanation and a root-cause analysis, not a cover-up.”
If the plaintiff's attorney in Florida can show Takata knew about the dangers of their airbags, it could open the door for more lawsuits. Motorists hurt in Hondas and other vehicles equipped with the Takata airbags could find the way cleared to be compensated for their injuries.
Dani K. Liblang is an attorney for The Liblang Law Firm, P.C. She defends the victims of defective vehicle crashes against auto manufactures who dodge safety requirements. If you or someone you know has been hurt by a defective vehicle, contact The Liblang Law Firm, P.C., today for a free consultation.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Getting a new car for Christmas should be about a big bow and a sleek new ride. But for some new car owners, the new year brings new problems. Find out what you should do if you got a lemon car for Christmas.
What is a Lemon Car?Just because you don't like your new car doesn't mean it counts as a lemon. Instead, a lemon is a passenger car or truck that continues to have the same defect that negatively impacts the value of the vehicle. It's not enough for your car to need repairs after you buy it. But if repeated efforts to fix the automobile keep falling short, you may be driving a lemon.
Repairing a LemonBefore your troubled vehicle becomes a lemon you have to give the manufacturer or dealership a “reasonable number of repair attempts.” Under Michigan law, this means:
- You've brought the car in for the same repair 4 or more times
in 2 years; or
- Your car is out of commission for at least 30 days of your
first year for one or more problems.
Notifying the ManufacturerIf your vehicle is headed toward being categorized as a lemon, you need to notify the manufacturer about the need for repair by certified mail, return receipt requested either after the third repair or after the vehicle has been in the shop for 25 days. Talk to a Michigan Lemon Law Lawyer, like Dani K. Liblang before you send it in, to make sure your notice satisfies Michigan law.
Opportunity to Repair or ReplaceThe manufacturer gets one last chance to fix your car after you send in the notice. If it can't do so within 5 days, your car is a lemon and you are entitled to a replacement or a refund.
Returning Your Christmas LemonIf the manufacturer can't fix your car it must give you two options:
- Replace the vehicle. You have the authority to accept
or reject the replacement.
- Refund the cost of the vehicle. You are entitled to
the full purchase price of the vehicle, minus an amount representing
your use of the vehicle.
Heading to CourtManufacturers will often fight the process of returning a lemon car. If your manufacturer or dealership won't work with you, you may need to attend arbitration or even file a lawsuit to get the relief you deserve according to Michigan law.
Don't let your biggest Christmas gift leave a sour taste in your mouth. If repeated repairs are getting in the way of enjoying your new car, contact Lemon Law Lawyer Dani K. Liblang. She will walk you through the process and make sure you get what you deserve under the law.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration isn't pulling its punches when it comes to safety reporting failures. Earlier this month, the agency hit Fiat Chrysler with its second multi-million dollar fine. The hope is the fines will make the industry more proactive when it comes to consumer safety.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Arbitration clauses are how big businesses escape class action lawsuits that hold them accountable to their customers. Despite ongoing efforts to ban mandatory arbitration clauses and class-arbitration waivers, this month the Supreme Court came out strongly in favor of the practice, upholding a coercive mandatory arbitration provision against consumers.
In DIRECTV, Inc v Imburgia, California residents signed service contracts with DirecTV that contained a mandatory arbitration provision and a class arbitration waiver. The policy said that if the “law of your state” makes class arbitration waivers unenforceable, then the whole arbitration agreement is unenforceable too.
California, at the time, was one of those states with laws making class-action waivers illegal. Specifically, in 2005, the California Supreme Court decided Discover Bank v Superior Court, which called such agreements “consumer contract[s] of adhesion” and “unconscionable under California law [that] should not be enforced.”
In 2008, two consumers sued DirecTV because of illegal early termination fees. The case dragged on in court for three years.
But then, in 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States, in AT&T Mobility LLC v Concepcion, ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act – a national law that directs how and when arbitration clauses may be used – invalidated the Discover Bank ruling. DirecTV asked the judge to send its case to mediation, but the judge refused. DirecTV appealed that decision all the way to the Supreme Court.
Instead of supporting consumers against the “take-it-or-leave-it” tactics of a major corporation, the Supreme Court said Concepcion applied even to contracts written before it was decided and the “law of your state” could only include state laws not later invalidated by the courts.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's dissent sums up the situation:
“These decisions have predictably resulted in the deprivation of consumers’ rights to seek redress for losses, and, turning the coin, they have insulated powerful economic interests from liability for violations of consumer protection laws. . . .
“Today, the court holds that consumers lack not only protection against unambiguous class arbitration bans in adhesion contracts. They lack even the benefit of the doubt when anomalous terms in such contracts reasonably could be construed to protect their rights.”
The Supreme Court's decision gives service providers all the cards when it comes to mandatory arbitration. Together with Concepcion, this case has essentially said that states are not allowed to regulate the arbitration provisions of contracts signed by their citizens.
Companies must not have the power to unilaterally mandate arbitration provisions, and in so doing shield themselves from the corrective power of class action lawsuits. Since the Supreme Court has demonstrated it is unwilling to protect consumers, it will have to fall to Congress to amend the Federal Arbitration Act.