Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), the Chairman of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, announced that a consumer friendly amendment to New York State’s Lemon Laws is now in effect. The new law, which Senator Fuschillo sponsored, will require that any proceedings arising out of Lemon Law arbitrations are held at a location that is convenient for the consumer.
To resolve disputes regarding defective motor vehicles, consumers may use the arbitration program, which is run through the New York State Attorney General’s office. The arbitration hearings take place at one of 56 locations throughout the state, with virtually every county having at least one site.
However, under the prior law, some manufacturers who challenged an award for the consumer from an arbitration hearing often chose to hold the proceedings in Albany County Supreme Court, where many of these companies conduct their business. This required the consumer to either hire an Albany area attorney or pay additional expenses for their own local representation and placed an unfair burden on the consumers it was designed to assist.
Senator Fuschillo’s law makes it easier for consumers to defend themselves if a manufacturer challenges an award. Under the new law, court proceedings must be held either in the county where the consumer resides or where the original arbitration took place so that consumers rights are better protected.
"The previous system of siting an arbitration without regard to the consumer was illogical and unfair. The burden should be on the company in question. This change will protect the rights of consumers and let those who sell ‘lemons’ know that they will have to answer to the consumers of New York," stated Senator Fuschillo. "The Lemon Laws are designed to protect a consumer from purchasing a defective motor vehicle and this amendment will further safeguard New York residents from being ripped off by unjust companies."
"When you're driving a 'lemon,' the last thing you need is a long trip to a courthouse far from your home," said Teresa A. Santiago, the Chairperson and Executive Director of the Consumer Protection Board (CPB). "The CPB supported Senator Fuschillo's legislation because it allows consumers to respond to a court action in the county where the consumer resides. The same is true for a lemon-law arbitration hearing. This will be a big help to consumers, allowing them to avoid long trips in order to appear in court, as well as the possible expense of hiring a local attorney."
Residents who would like more information about New York State’s Lemon Laws can call the New York State Consumer Protection Board at 1-800-697-1220 or Senator Fuschillo’s office at 516-546-4100.
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