LANSING, Mich. - A dissatisfied lessee is entitled to a jury decision on claims involving a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am that repeatedly hesitated and stalled, despite the dealership's efforts to solve the problem, the state Court of Appeals has held.
The ruling means lessees may sue to revoke the lease and recoup their payments, even if they keep the vehicle until the end of the lease period, said plaintiff's lawyer Mark Romano of Garden City.
In 1995, Sherry Gadula went to Jim Causley Inc. (Pontiac-GMC) in Clinton Township, where she told a salesman she wanted safe, reliable transportation.
The court said he described the bumper-to-bumper warranty on a new Grand Am.
Gadula contends the car experienced recurring problems, including engine hesitation and stalling at 50 to 55 mph.
The dealership made warranty repairs five times, the court said, but Gadula said problems recurred until the end of the lease term, when she returned the car.
She sued General Motors and the dealership for breach of warranty and consumer protection violations, to revoke the deal and recoup her payments. She also sought damages.
'She's asking for all or most of her money back because it was defective,' Romano said.
At trial, Wayne County Judge Michael Callahan dismissed the case.
But the appeals court said a jury should decide whether she can revoke her acceptance of the car and be reimbursed.
It also said a jury should determine whether the defendants violated Michigan's consumer protection laws. If so, Gadula is entitled to at least $250 in damages, plus attorney fees.
However, the court agreed with the defense that the warranty claim was properly dismissed because Gadula failed to prove any damages stemming from the alleged breach of warranty.
GM spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato said the defense is willing to proceed to trial.
'Our opinion hasn't changed,' Cusinato said. 'We still feel there is no liability on GM's part, primarily because we feel the problem was fixed.'
Romano said the case will be scheduled for a settlement conference or trial.