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Report gives 'lemon' car buyer the right to sue in Nevada

Like almost every other state, Nevada has a statute that gives a car buyer the right to sue the dealer or person who sold him or her the car if it turns out to have major, unfixable defects or is otherwise unusable. Such statutes are commonly known as "lemon laws." Nevada's lemon law clearly applies to new vehicles, and appears to cover used vehicles also, though a complication may arise there.

That is because used cars and trucks are often sold "as is" -- that is, without any contract guarantee that the parts will work for a certain length of time or a promise to repair mechanical problems. Used car dealers in Nevada might expect that when a buyer signs a purchase agreement to buy a vehicle "as is" that he or she is exempt from the state's lemon law.

But a recent ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court has found some wiggle room for a California man who purchased a used car from a Nevada dealership "as is" in 2010. As part of the sale, the buyer says, the dealership gave him a vehicle inspection report that described the car, a 1995 Honda Civic, as being in good condition. The car experienced several mechanical problems two days after the man bought it, and he later sued the dealership.

The lawsuit was dismissed by the trial court after the judge ruled that the plaintiff did not show that he had a breach of warranty claim and failed to provide specific enough claims to show fraud. But on appeal, the state Supreme Court ruled that the inspection report could be considered a warranty if the plaintiff relied on it when deciding whether the buy the Civic.

The court returned the case to the trial level, though it expressed doubt that the plaintiff would prevail.

Source: Las Vegas Sun, "Court rules in lemon car deal," Cy Ryan, May 11, 2012

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