St. Mary's Law Journal


Twenty-five percent of the consumers with car warranty problems are dissatisfied with the complaint-handling process in the automobile industry and the result of their grievances. In response to the frustrations of defective car owners, Texas, along with many other states, passed a “lemon law” providing more definitive relief for consumer. Lemon laws provide a clearly defined cause of action against the manufacturer and provide the consumer with a low-cost, readily available mechanism for resolving their disputes. Most states’ lemon laws require the consumer to resort to arbitration provisions before initiating a court action if a manufacturer sets up a dispute settlement mechanism. While the Texas Lemon Law parallels all other states’ lemon laws, it deviates in the form of its warranty dispute resolution system. The Texas lemon law conditions the availability of its provisions upon a hearing before the Texas Motor Vehicle Commission (the Commission) instead of a manufacturer-sponsored dispute settlement mechanism. The Commission is an effective alternative to the heavily criticized informal dispute settlement mechanisms sponsored by manufacturers. First, there is no risk of a panel member’s partiality toward an employer or manufacturer. Also, the Commission possesses effective sanctions against the manufacturer so that submission to the arbitration procedure will not be established for the purpose of delay. Further, the Commission does not force the consumer to travel long distances just to present his case in person. Finally, the Fifth Circuit recognized the Texas Lemon Law conforms with the purpose of warranty regulation and does not deny manufacturers due process or equal protection.


St. Mary's University School of Law