Practice Group Leader: James D. DeRose
Our automotive attorneys provide counsel and litigation services to a number of international automobile manufacturers, importers and finance companies. Our longtime clients include major auto manufacturers, importers, and motorcycle manufacturers from around the world.
In the litigation area, we represent manufacturers, distributors, and dealers against all types of consumer law suits with a particular focus on breach of warranty and “Lemon Law” claims. In addition, we defend suits grounded in product liability and consumer fraud along with a wide array of general commercial litigation actions.Our practice further extends to prosecuting odometer disclosure actions and defending consumer credit violation claims on behalf of automobile finance companies.
Our automotive practice is one of the largest and most experienced in the region and has an extensive knowledge of the automotive industry, the jurisdictional idiosyncrasies of the states in which its attorneys practice, and the major “players” in this niche practice area.
The firm serves as counsel to five major manufacturers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as Regional Coordinating Counsel for the Eastern Region for one. In this capacity, we supervise and administer the client's litigation caseload throughout the Eastern United States. Our team of attorneys has a combined total of more than 100 years of experience and routinely practices in the state and federal courts of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.Practice Capabilities
- Litigation and dispute resolution, including Lemon Law arbitration and Better Business Bureau (BBB) Autoline proceedings;
- reviewing advertising and promotional materials for legal compliance;
- supervision and oversight of national and regional trademark enforcement;
- preparation of sales and financing documents;
- advice and consultation on product liability and safety matters;
- preparation of warranty booklets and literature;
- preparation and review of franchise agreements, distribution agreements, and other documents used in the importation and distribution of vehicles;
- providing Lemon Law and breach of warranty training to clients and members of the bar.
Lindabury’s approach to representation of its automotive clients is predicated on a balance of zealous advocacy and attention to the client’s bottom line. More than thirty five years of industry and litigation experience has allowed us to develop and implement a lean and efficient litigation strategy that can readily adapt to the needs of a particular client or matter. While the standardization of Lemon Law litigation has enhanced our efficiency in routine matters, we are attuned to the nuances of a case and ready to handle matters with a more robust approach when necessary.
When a new case comes in, it is immediately reviewed with an eye toward early dismissal or procedural rulings that will help leverage an early settlement. Discovery is tailored to the complexity and nature of the case, always with the goal of putting our clients in a position of strength. Likewise, we go to great lengths to protect our clients from unreasonable demands for the disclosure of sensitive or proprietary information. Our attorneys work closely with experts and other members of “the field” to reach a complete understanding of the mechanical and business-related facts of the case. ADR is handled expertly with an eye toward driving down settlement by demonstrating the weaknesses of a plaintiff’s case. Right up until trial, we engage every method at our disposal to leverage an optimal settlement, including filing offers of judgment and appropriate in limine motions. However, in the event trial is necessary, we prepare thoroughly and defend our clients rigorously before a jury or judge. At this point our focus is on one thing: winning.Representative Matters
- Kimmel & Silverman, P.C. v. Volkswagen Group of America, et al (New Jersey Superior Court and Appellate Division, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas and Superior Court) In 2014, Lindabury served as lead counsel in companion declaratory judgment actions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania seeking to bar Plaintiff’s Lemon Law attorneys from obtaining fee awards for representation at pre-suit informal dispute resolution proceedings. After obtaining summary judgment at the trial level, both matters were appealed. Lindabury automotive attorneys briefed and argued the matters in the states’ respective appellate courts, where the lower courts’ rulings were affirmed. These results changed the way Lemon Law Plaintiffs’attorneys handled matters pre-litigation and strengthened the “initial resort” provisions of operative consumer protection statutes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
- Lindabury automotive attorneys obtained summary judgment in a defective product and breach of warranty action filed by a limousine service against a luxury motor vehicle manufacturer. Plaintiff alleged that the vehicle suffered catastrophic engine failure as a result of a defective engine. The matter was dismissed on the basis that the economic loss doctrine barred recovery for damage to a product itself and the express warranty had expired prior to the engine failure.
- In a complex fraud case attacking the legitimacy of a manufacturer’s Certified Pre-Owned program, Lindabury represented the manufacturer, which implemented and authorized the CPO program, as well as the financing company that serviced the loan in question. Plaintiff’s claim against the manufacturer was that the CPO program was inadequately supervised, while his claim against the financing entity was grounded in assignee liability under the FTC Holder Rule. After years of contentious litigation, the matter was settled on the eve of trial with zero contribution from our clients.
- Lindabury automotive attorneys obtained a full defense jury verdict in a product liability case alleging personal injury stemming from a rollaway vehicle. The Plaintiff was seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and refused to entertain reasonable settlement offers throughout the proceeding.
- Christelles v. Nissan Motor Corp. (New Jersey Superior Court and Appellate Division) In a case of first impression, the court was asked to address the issue of the use of expert witnesses in Lemon Law hearings before the Office of Administrative Law.