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Ibrahim v. Ford Motor Co.

Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Four

October 13, 1989

No. A040454

Opinion

 [*882]  [**65]   California has adopted a variety of statutes, including the so-called "Lemon Law," which may be used by the dissatisfied purchaser of a new motor vehicle. We reverse the judgment before us because of instructional error that largely nullified the effectiveness of those statutes.

Background

In May of 1984 plaintiff Annamarie E. Ibrahim 1 executed a contract for the purchase of a new Mercury Cougar from the Larry Albedi Motors dealership. Mrs. Ibrahim made a down payment of $ 3,000; the remainder of the purchase price of $ 12,315.96 was financed through a [***2]  credit union. A document entitled "Ford Warranty Information" provided by defendant Ford Motor Company to plaintiff at the time of the purchase embodied Ford's express warranty that the "selling Dealer will repair, replace, or adjust parts, except tires, on 1984 Ford Motor Company cars . . . found to be defective in factory materials or workmanship made or supplied by Ford" which develop during the following 12 months or 12,000 miles, "whichever occurs earlier."

Plaintiff soon had need of this warranty. According to plaintiff's testimony at trial, mechanical problems were noticeable literally from the moment she accepted delivery of the vehicle. From June to October of [**66]  1984 plaintiff returned her Cougar to the dealer no less than eight times. A number of parts, ranging from engine [***3]  belts to the A-frame, had to be replaced. All but one of plaintiff's complaints were resolved to her satisfaction without  [*883]  charge. The exception was the tendency of the vehicle's engine to surge or die unexpectedly. This problem figured in each of plaintiff's return trips up to October 17th (which, because the vehicle had been driven 11,760 miles, appears to have been the last visit prior to expiration of the express warranty quoted above). Despite the best efforts of the dealer, this problem persisted. By the time plaintiff's vehicle was returned to her on October 20th, it had been in the dealer's repair facility for approximately 55 days.

Twice more, once in November and once in December of 1984, plaintiff returned the vehicle to the dealer with complaints of the erratic engine. Although the details are unclear, it appears that about this time Ford was informed of the problem. After approximately 30 more days with the dealer, which was still honoring the express warranty despite the odometer showing more than 12,000 miles, the problem remained uncorrected. According to plaintiff, if anything it got worse. After a harrowing experience when the Cougar died while [***4]  passing over railroad tracks, plaintiff decided she had had enough.

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214 Cal. App. 3d 878 *; 263 Cal. Rptr. 64 **; 1989 Cal. App. LEXIS 1272 ***; 10 U.C.C. Rep. Serv. 2d (Callaghan) 117

ANNAMARIE E. IBRAHIM et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant and Respondent

Subsequent History:  [***1]  Respondent's petition for review by the Supreme Court was denied January 4, 1990.

Prior History: Superior Court of Solano County, No. 91678, John A. DeRonde, Judge.

Disposition: The judgment is reversed.

CORE TERMS

repair, buyer, subdivision, instructions, manufacturer, warranty, nonconformity, burden of proof, reasonable number, Consumer, express warranty, trial court, replace, civil penalty, continued use, willful, dealer, instruct a jury, obligations, dealership, conform, revoke, Song-Beverly Act, provisions, notify, seller, new motor vehicle, reimburse, Italics, damages

Commercial Law (UCC), Standards of Performance & Liability, Performance, General Overview, Sales (Article 2), Remedies, Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Vehicle Warranties, Civil Procedure, Jury Trials, Jury Instructions, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Preponderance of Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Presumptions, Effects, Standards of Review, Harmless & Invited Errors, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Express Warranties, Buyer's Damages & Remedies, Damages, Punitive Damages, Criminal Law & Procedure, Acts & Mental States, Mens Rea, Willfulness, Governments, Legislation, Types of Statutes, Interpretation, Torts, Types of Damages, Punitive Damages, Aggravating Circumstances, Breach, Excuse & Repudiation, Acceptance, Apparent Acceptance, General Provisions (Article 1), General Provisions, Application & Construction, Acceptance of Goods, Revocations of Acceptance, Contract Formation, Reasonable Time, Real Property Law, Mobilehomes & Mobilehome Parks, Maintenance & Use Issues