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Court: Buyer’s release bars lemon law claim

Lemon law clash

At issue: Lemon suit over 1993 Ford F-350 pickup

Winner: Ford, as Ohio appeals court finds no liability

Ford Motor Co. has won another round in a case alleging that a 1993 Ford F-350 pickup was a lemon, this time in the Ohio Court of Appeals.

Elmer Ohmer bought the pickup from Mel Farr Ford Inc. in December 1993 but brought it back several times for repairs of alleged mechanical problems, said the appeals court decision. He was not charged for the work.

About a year after buying the pickup, Ohmer hired a lawyer, who contacted Ford Motor Co. about the vehicle. Ford denied Ohmer’s allegations that the F-350 was a lemon but agreed to replace it with a new 1996 model if Ohmer paid the $2,200 difference between the manufacturer’s suggested retail prices of the two trucks.

Ohmer paid the money and signed a release but noted on the document that he was signing it “under protest.”

Twenty months after the pickups were exchanged, Ohmer sued in Butler County Court of Common Pleas, claiming the 1993 F-350 was a lemon. The trial court dismissed the case.

A unanimous Ohio Court of Appeals panel ruled that the release Ohmer executed prevents him from suing under Ohio’s lemon law. The release was a valid contract, the court said, and is enforceable despite his “grumbling acceptance” in signing it.

“When he signed the replacement agreement and the release, paid the MSRP difference of $2,200 with cash and took possession of the new truck, he unequivocally accepted Ford’s offer in accordance with Ford’s directions,” the court said. “His protest did not alter the terms of Ford ’s offer.”

Said Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes: “We agree with the court’s decision.”

Ohmer’s lawyer did not return calls seeking comment.

You can reach Eric Freedman at freedma5@msu.edu
Tags: Lawsuit Ford

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