A Rattle May Not Count | Nordgren Law: Automotive Litigation and Lemon Law

Consumers must show that a defect “substantially impairs” the use or market value of a motor vehicle to gain protection under the Louisiana Lemon law. Unfortunately, there aren’t a large volume of cases explaining what the term “substantially impairs” actually means; however, I found one that involving an impairment that didn’t rise to the level of “substantial.”

The case was called Johns v. American Isuzu Motors, Inc., and it was decided by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1993. In Johns, a consumer brought her small hatchback in on at least thirteen different occasions to express dissatisfaction with what came to be described as a “rattle.” Other minor repairs were made to the vehicle, but 90-95% of the consumer’s dissatisfaction concerned the rattle.

In determining that the rattle did not substantially impair the use of the vehicle, the court noted:

“…The plaintiff did not demonstrate that her vehicle contained defects substantially impairing its use and/or market value. Instead, the record shows that her complaints could not be substantiated by the dealership’s technicians, and that the general construction of the Isuzu I-Mark entailed little acoustical materials for sound diffraction.”

So, it appears that mere annoyances and unsubstantiated complaints do not entitle consumers to protection under the Louisiana Lemon Law. And judging by the tone of the court’s opinion, I am skeptical as to if the plaintiff would have been granted relief even if her complaints had been substantiated.