Los Angeles Jury Imposes Full Damages and a Civil Penalty Against Mercedes-Benz for Willfully Violating the California “Lemon Law”, for Refusing to Repurchase a Mercedes SL 550R with a Serious Water Leak

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Los Angeles-area Consumer Protection Attorney Robert F. Brennan of Brennan, Wiener & Associates has, once again, obtained a large jury verdict against Mercedes-Benz for refusing to buy back a Mercedes “lemon”, a SL 550R with a trunk leak that Mercedes and its dealerships never correctly diagnosed. The verdict included a full buyback of the vehicle for approximately $118,000.00, plus a civil penalty against Mercedes for, in the jury’s own words, willfully violating California’s “lemon law,” the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. Mr. Brennan was assisted at trial by Lucy Kasparian of the California Lemon Law Center in Glendale, Ca. Ataian v. Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC 445 765.

Robert F. Brennan, Esq. of Brennan, Wiener & Associates of La Crescenta has obtained a $128,000 verdict* against Mercedes-Benz under California’s “lemon law,” the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, for refusing to repurchase a Mercedes SL 550R with a trunk leak defect. The jury rendered its verdict on September 26, 2011 in Dept. 30 of the Los Angeles Superior Court, downtown Los Angeles courthouse. The jury included in its verdict a $10,000 civil penalty against Mercedes for willfully violating the California lemon law. This is the third time that Mr. Brennan has obtained a jury verdict which included a civil penalty against Mercedes for willful “lemon law” violations, and his fourth overall verdict against Mercedes. Mr. Brennan was assisted at trial by Lucy Kasparian, Esq. of the California Lemon Law Center in Glendale. The court will later determine plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs, which will then be added to the judgment.

The defect in this case was a persistent trunk leak in a 2009 Mercedes SL 550R. The plaintiff, Albert Ataian of Glendale, brought the car into Mercedes dealerships on four occasions and also scheduled a meeting directly with Mercedes’ factory representatives to address the problem. Mr. Ataian provided Mercedes and its dealerships with photographs and videos of the trunk leak in an effort to help them diagnose the problem, but Mercedes repeatedly failed to get to the bottom of the problem. The trunk leak became so bad that water damaged the electrical components in the trunk, rendering them inoperable.

“At trial, unbelievably, Mercedes tried to put on evidence to suggest that Mr. Ataian himself had somehow caused the defect by tampering with the car or by performing unauthorized repairs,” comments Brennan. “This was utterly ridiculous and the jury saw right through it.”

Brennan also observed that the jury’s decision was aided by evidence of more widespread water leak defects in Mercedes’ SL line of cars. “The jury heard evidence that the SL’s have a water leak problem. I don’t think Mercedes has gotten to the bottom of the problem yet. The jury heard evidence of water leaks in other SL line cars. Not all the leaks involve the trunk; some of the leaks involve leaks into the passenger compartment. But this is a known problem and Mercedes has yet to find an adequate remedy for it.”

Co-counsel Lucy Kasparian commented, “Our office has other water leak problems involving Mercedes’ SL line. It is ridiculous for Mercedes to blame these leaks on its own customers.”

Mr. Brennan advised owners of SL cars with water leaks to document the water leaks as much as possible. “As with all of my trials, the videos and photographs that the clients take become the very best evidence. If you own an SL and it has a water leak, do what you can to photograph or video the problem and the conditions under which it occurs, and keep copies of all the photos and videos. Obviously you must give Mercedes a reasonable chance to correct the problem—that is a requirement under California’s lemon law. But if they fail or refuse to fix it and then refuse to repurchase the vehicle, you will need to consult with an attorney experienced in the California lemon law.”

About Robert F. Brennan and his firm: Brennan, Wiener & Associates is widely recognized as the leading Southern California law firm on a wide range of consumer protection issues, including lemon law, car dealer fraud, identity theft, wrongful credit damage, unfair debt collection practices and landlord-tenant class actions, as well as serious personal injury cases. The firm enjoys an "AV" rating from the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell ratings agency, which is the highest possible rating for an attorney or a law firm and is based on pre-eminence in both legal ability and ethics. Mr. Brennan has been selected as a “Southern California Super Lawyer” for six consecutive years.

*Ataian v. Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC 445 765.


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