Lemon Law King Vince Megna is a high stakes litigator who has been practicing law for over 10 years. In an interview with The Seanwelt, he discusses his legal career and provides insight into the current state of lemon law in America.
Vince Megna is the founder of Lemon Law King, a company that helps people with lemon law cases. He was also recently interviewed by Forbes.
Any matter involving Vince Megna should be resolved as quickly as feasible.
— General Motors’ memo to its lawyers
Vince Megna, Wisconsin’s Lemon Law King, is one of the country’s most prolific and successful lemon lawyers. He and his staff have filed hundreds of claims against carmakers and dealers in Wisconsin over the last 27 years. They almost never lose.
“For myself and my companions, this is a true passion. “This is something we’re all infatuated with,” he adds. “I adore this statute. “I adore your art.”
For Mr. Megna, it was love at first sight when he filed his first lemon law suit against Chrysler in 1990, barely a year after selling a guitar business he co-owned with Daryl Stuermer, a former Genesis member. (In his free time, Mr. Megna is a musician.) He had a great time, won the case, and the rest is history.
In 1995, he appeared on “48 Hours.” In 2004, he wrote the book Bring on Goliath. In 2006, he was featured by the Washington Post. He received the highest lemon law settlement in history, $880,000, in 2013, following an eight-year struggle with Mercedes-Benz. (In 2014, he also received a large settlement from Tesla.)
Mr. Megna has long been regarded as one of the country’s finest authorities on what is considered a specialized field of law by lawyers. He claims to have written 36 appellate court decisions and five Wisconsin Supreme Court rulings, according to his website.
Last week, we spoke over the phone about the decline of consumer rights in the United States, why manufacturers fight, and what everyone should do when purchasing a vehicle.
(For clarity, this dialogue has been trimmed and reduced.)
Wisconsin is a microcosm of what legislators throughout the nation are attempting to do to consumer rights. What legal changes has the state undertaken in the last several years?
The most significant shift occurred in March 2014, when the lemon laws were repealed. As a result, there’s almost no one left in the state who can handle these cases, which is precisely what Scott Walker and the Republicans intended.
They shortened the statute of limitations from six to three years. It was always a six-year rule. Because many warranties are three years, a lot of customers contact me after three years, when their warranty expires. But since they chopped it in half, they don’t have a lemon law case. That’s a significant one.
They shortened the statute of limitations from six to three years.
Another thing they did was add a double-damage clause to our contract, which meant that if the manufacturer did not settle with us within 30 days, we would get twice damages. They took it away, which doesn’t stop us from continuing, but you no longer have the same leverage.
The costs were subsequently limited in all consumer claims, not just lemon law cases. Cases involving consumer law. They set the fee limit at three times the amount awarded to the plaintiff. Because we handle lesser situations, that’s rather significant. Cases involving $5,000 cars, for example, are based on deception. We take them and have never had one go missing. However, with this limit on, it’s becoming more difficult.
If the fees are so cheap, lawyers may believe that it is not worth their time to accept the case, and so the matter will never be heard, correct?
Absolutely. Absolutely. You already know what will happen: the manufacturers and dealers will have you jump through all the hoops. Let’s imagine you have a $5,000 misrepresentation case and we’re filing a lawsuit under state law. Okay, when our fees reach $15,000, they’ll already believe they’ve reached the limit. They are going to keep going. They have no motive to settle; all they want is to raise our costs to $15,000, which isn’t difficult. Then they reply, “Well, you’re never going to be paid for whatever you’re doing.” This hasn’t deterred us, but it has deterred many attorneys.
Attorneys must be compensated. If they do not, there will be no lawyers available to handle these cases.
Attorneys must be compensated. If they don’t, no lawyers will accept these cases, and the customer will be left with nothing. The law’s goal is to assist individuals. Fee shifting exists so that consumers can afford to go to court since the attorney is compensated by the manufacturer. If no attorney is willing to handle these cases, we will be forced to shut the door on all of these victims.
Do you see a connection between the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, the FACT Act, and any of the other proposed laws and what Congress is attempting to do now?
It’s comparable, to be sure. As a result, lawyers will be forced to leave the field. That’s why we’re getting so many calls right now. We’ve always gotten a lot of calls, but now we receive them all since no one else is accepting these situations. Attorneys hear all of these horror tales regarding the laws and refuse to discuss them. It’s all meant to put you off. The goal is to prevent customers from launching lawsuits.
What effect do you believe Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination will have on consumer rights?
It’s not going to help at all. It’ll be detrimental to us since he has a strong right-wing inclination. That is precisely what we do not need. It’s a pity. We now have a five-four court, I suppose, since he is so corporate-minded. I’ve heard they’re attempting to weaken Dodd-Frank. They aim to get rid of everything that is consumer-friendly or useful.
It’s like that all around the nation. There are 33 Republican governors in the United States, and they are gradually repealing consumer protection measures. Why, exactly? Why? These are just customers who have been taken advantage of by someone. It is unethical to deprive people of their rights.
They claim they’re attempting to address an issue called “frivolous class actions” that doesn’t seem to be widespread.
Legislators support businesses in all they do.
There isn’t an issue here, to be sure. They just aim to reduce your prospects of bringing a lawsuit. Our is our whole legislative in this state, and it isn’t all that different from other states like Indiana and Texas. Everything the politicians do is in the interests of companies, manufacturers, and vehicle dealers. Because our state is open for business, and it’s better for business if these little businesses are unable to suit the state’s huge dealers. They make it so difficult.
Arbitration is on the rise. The majority of vehicle dealers include it and have consumers sign an arbitration agreement, and people don’t read it, don’t comprehend it, and end up being bound by arbitration. It’s a complete nightmare.
People don’t know what Congress is doing or what any of these legislation imply until one directly impacts them.
Yes, it is correct.
Why is it that manufacturers defend lemon law claims so vehemently? The damages are little to them, yet they seem to be incorrect the great majority of the time.
It is entirely dependent on the automobile manufacturer. Mercedes is a fighter at heart. They either despise me or like fighting. A few firms, such as Toyota, have a mindset that resists everything. You’re headed to court if you file a lawsuit against Toyota. They’re difficult cases; they’re really difficult instances. They simply keep fighting. I believe they do it to set an example: “We’re going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars battling you.” They’re attempting to deter individuals from pursuing these lawsuits.
However, I am a big fan of General Motors. They are the ones who settle the quickest. I’ve filed over 400 lawsuits against General Motors, and we’ve never lost a single one. We have never lost a motion, an appeal, or a trial in our history. They haven’t won anything in the last 27 years.
General Motors is the company that settles the quickest.
We had our last trial against General Motors five years ago. And the lawyer in charge of the case wanted to settle since it was such a strong case for us. One of GM’s attorneys wanted to settle the case, but the other believed they could win. So we’re going to court. It was a three-day trial, and the jury deliberated for barely one hour. They return after an hour, and we get a decision. This happened 10 years ago in November. Following the trial, the GM attorney gives me this note from GM: “Any lawsuit from Vince Megna, settle as soon as feasible.” God-honesty. They’ve been together ever since.
But they’re doing the right thing since the fines aren’t that high when we settle—they may be as low as $6,000 or $8,000. These other companies are paying us tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a result, GM is doing the correct thing. People want to get out of these vehicles.
What recommendations would you provide to someone looking to purchase a vehicle?
First and foremost, individuals should begin reading the documents they are signing. Almost no one does. I don’t think anybody I know has ever read a car purchase agreement. They must, though. You must read and at the very least seek for items that give away your rights, and you must refrain from purchasing all of these add-ons when purchasing an automobile. Rust-proofing isn’t something you should purchase. If you purchase rust-proofing from a dealer, some manufacturers may invalidate your guarantee if you have rust issues later.
People should begin reading the documents they are signing.
They may charge whatever they want when you purchase an aftermarket extended service contract. They get as much information as possible from you. The manufacturer’s extended warranty, at the very least, has a price tag that everyone understands. It’s like the Wild West in these aftermarkets. They are free to charge whatever they want from us.
There’s a lot to take in, but reading is crucial. You should always check for an arbitration clause when purchasing a vehicle and refuse to sign it. You are not required to sign the document. They’ll sell it to you anyhow.
You’ll need some assistance getting to the dealer. It’s a tough world out there.
What basic advise would you provide to consumers?
People must become aware of their rights and how they should be exercised. I also believe that individuals must get beyond the mindset of “it’s all about me.” “I couldn’t care less if I didn’t have any automotive difficulties,” you know. We must look to everyone because everyone is significant. You’re probably not going to have any issues, but why should the next person have to? There are a lot of poor automobiles on the road. This is something that everyone should be aware of.
More individuals need to become active in consumer advocacy.
We need legislation. We need regulations that assist us, as well as customers. And the customer can’t simply gaze in the mirror and be concerned with themselves. More individuals need to become active in consumer advocacy. That, I believe, is critical.
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