Can I Get “Emotional Distress” or “Punitive” Damages Under the California Lemon Law?

Generally speaking, no. The California lemon law contains a provision that permits a consumer who purchased a lemon car or truck to obtain a “civil penalty” of up to two times the amount of actual damages if the consumer proves that the manufacturer “willfully” violated the California lemon law.  As a result, in the case of Kwan v. Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc.., 23 Cal. App. 4th 174 (1994) the California Court of Appeal interpreted the civil penalty provision to be roughly equivalent to punitive damages, and therefore concluded that the California legislature intended the civil penalty provision to be a substitute for punitive damages.  As a result, while a consumer can recover a civil penalty, they cannot recover punitive damages.

The Kwan v. Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc. decision also analyzed whether or not a consumer could be awarded “emotional distress” damages for the frustration caused by a consumer’s defective vehicle.  In the Kwan case, the jury awarded the buyer emotional distress damages at trial, and the defendant appealed. The California Court of Appeal that reviewed the decision ruled that emotional distress damages are not permitted under the California lemon law, and struck the emotional damages from the judgment that the consumer obtained from the jury.  As a result, under the California lemon law consumers are not permitted to obtain emotional distress damages.  They are limited to: (1) the repurchase or replacement remedy; (2) incidental damages, and (3) a civil penalty of up to two times the consumer’s actual damages.

See this Web site’s page on How Much Money Can I Win in a California Lemon Law Lawsuit for a description of the repurchase remedy, the replacement remedy, incidental damages, and the civil penalty provisions of the California lemon law.


THINK THIS WAS AN INFORMATIVE CALIFORNIA LEMON LAW SITE?
HIT THE “+1″ BUTTON TO LET OTHERS KNOW!   


The Vachon Law Firm accepts cases ANYWHERE in the State of California:

Los Angeles County

Orange County

San Diego County

San Bernardino

Marin County

Alameda County

Oxnard

Sacramento County

Riverside County

Fresno