PORTLAND, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Markowitz Herbold PC, a trial law firm, has won a partial summary judgement for its client against Newmar Corporation, a recreational vehicle manufacturer now part of Winnebago Industries Inc. (NYSE: WGO).
On November 19, 2019, in the case of Roblin v. Newmar Corporation, Judge McShane in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon set a persuasive precedent for RV purchasers in Oregon. RV owners in the state can now take comfort that the end-manufacturer — not the subcomponent manufacturers — should be responsible for recovery under the Oregon Lemon Law Act. As the court reasoned: “From a practical standpoint, this decision protects a consumer from having to litigate against each subcomponent manufacturer, while also ensuring that final manufacturers cannot contract around Oregon’s Lemon Law.”
The court’s interpretation of Oregon’s Lemon Law is consistent with decisions in other states, including New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin.
A Danger on the Road
In Roblin v. Newmar Corporation, the plaintiff sued Newmar under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the Oregon Lemon Law Act, the Oregon Consumer Warranty Act and the California Unfair Competition Law. The plaintiff alleged that their 2016 London Aire RV, purchased from Guaranty RV in Junction City, Oregon, had suffered numerous failures of its various systems, including the engine cooling system, the electrical system and the room extension slide-out system.
The RV’s flaws manifested in a pattern of repeated breakdowns, unsuccessful repair attempts and lengthy warranty service periods. The vehicle was presented to dealerships for repairs under various warranties approximately nine times between 2015 and 2017, and it was undriveable for more than 130 days.
The plaintiff also claimed that, during the sales process and in its corporate materials, Newmar emphasized a large service network populated with well-trained technicians, which became a significant selling point of the RV. However, personnel at the various authorized service centers, including service centers in both Oregon and California, continually demonstrated that they were not properly trained and lacked the expertise to provide the high level of service promised.
Newmar Laid Blame on Subcomponent Manufacturers
Roblin repeatedly attempted to obtain a refund from Newmar or have the RV replaced. Newmar and its agents declined to provide such remedies, placing responsibility on subcomponent manufacturers and arguing that the plaintiff did not meet all the conditions for repurchase under the Oregon Lemon Law.
Not yet determined in this case is the dollar amount to be awarded to the plaintiff, including the repurchase price of the RV and any potential supplemental funds. A decision is expected soon.
About Markowitz Herbold PC
Markowitz Herbold is a litigation law firm that tries high-stakes business disputes for individuals, companies and state, local and regional governments, to juries, judges and arbitrators. The firm is based in Portland, Oregon, and its lawyers practice before state and federal trial courts in the Northwest and across the country. More information at markowitzherbold.com.