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Car manufacturer and insurers disputed personal-use claim

Settlement:   Defense
Case Type:   Lemon Law. Motor Vehicle - Lemon Law. Appeals
Case:   General Motors Corporation v. Thomas J. Pira and Claudia Plra. No. 9328/06
Venue:   Suffolk Supreme, NY
Judge:   Gary J. Weber
Date:   Monday, August 07, 2006
Plaintiff Attorney(s):   Anthony T. Ballato; Massapequa. NY, for Thomas J. Pira, Claudia Pira
Defendant Attorney(s):   Justin E. Proper; The Rose Law Firm, PLLC; Albany, NY, for General Motors Corp.
Facts:   On Jan. 6, 2006, plaintiff General Motors Corp. lost an "arbitration proceeding that was based on the New Car Lemon Law, General Business law article 11-A. § 198·a. As a result, General Motors was ordered to repay $49,453 to Claudia and Thomas Pira, in exchange for the return of the Piras ' 2003 Hummer," General Motors vehicle. The Piras had claimed that the Hummer's climate control blew hot air Into the vehicle's passenger compartment when it should have been providing cool air. They claimed that the vehicle was returned to the dealer on four or more occasions for repair, but that the problem was never resolved. They attempted to return the vehicle, but it was refused by General Motors. The Piras sought recovery via application of the Lemon Law. They claimed that the vehicle's condition constituted a violation of the Lemon Law. which specifies that a vehicle's first 24 months and/or 18,000 miles should not include more than four repair attempts and/or 30 days of repair shop time. Arbitrator Gerald Love found for the Piras and awarded a refund of the Hummer's $49,453 purchase price. General Motors filed a Lemon Law Article 75 Appeal (CPLR 7511), seeking to vacate the arbitrator's decision. It alleged that the Lemon Law did not apply because the Piras were using the Hummer for business purposes. PIaintiff's counsel, claimed that New York's Lemon Law is only for the benefit or consumers' "personal use" and that the Piras actually used the vehicle for predominantly business and not for personal use, based on depreciation alleged in their tax returns. It contended that the Consumer statute applies to the "personal use" of a vehicle and that it disqualifies relief via the Lemon Law if the primary use, or more than 50% of its use, is not for personal use. The Piras acknowledged that the Hummer is occasionally used for business purposes, but they contended that the vehicle was primarily used for personal reasons. They further, acknowledged that the vehicle was used for appraisals, but they contended that such activity did not constitute "business use."
Injury:   General Motors sought to deny the Piras ' recovery of $49.453, the amount awarded in the Lemon Law arbitration. The Piras counterclaimed for recovery of attorney fees.
Verdict:   Judge Gary Weber found for the defense, though he denied the Plras ' attempt to recover attorney fees. EDITOR'S COMMENTS: This report Is based on in formation that was provided by defense counsel. Plaintiff's counsel did not respond to the reporter's phone call.

Lemon Law Cases