By on July 15, 2016

Cadillac Lemon

An owner of a 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon that won a lemon law case against General Motors is now on the receiving end of GM’s legal department.

According to WSB-TV in Georgia, the vehicle’s owner, Patrick Morse, won his lemon-law case in 2014. General Motors, instead of abiding by the arbiter’s ruling, is leveraging a little-known law to appeal the ruling in the courts. The appeal process has left Morse with a troublesome car for the last two years — and there’s a possibility it could continue for years to come.

Morse’s vehicular issues began just days after he purchased the Cadillac.

“I bought the car on a Friday, and it was seen in the dealership Monday when it would not start,” Morse told investigative reporter Jim Strickland. “It’s averaging at least one visit per month to the dealership since I’ve owned it.”

After numerous visits, Morse, representing himself, took GM to the lemon law arbitration board — and won. Now General Motors is appealing that decision in the courts.

Victories are most often won by complainants in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Law. General Motors has appealed those victories more than any other automaker since 2014.

Morse must now hire a lawyer to represent him in court to keep in place the original ruling. Even if Morse wins in court, General Motors could keep the legal lemons rolling, says lemon-law expert Alex Simanovsky.

“My concern for Mr. Morse is if we win in Forsyth County, they may appeal to the court of appeals and it may go on,” Simanovsky told WSB-TV.

Correction: The original headline stated GM is suing Patrick Morse, but it’s actually appealing the decision by the lemon law arbitration board. We’ve updated the headline to better reflect this. [h/t Gary Gastelu]

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81 Comments on “GM Loses Georgia Lemon Law Hearing, Takes Victorious Owner to Court...”


  • avatar
    yamahog

    Quality is job #1 over at GM, huh?

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

      That’s Ford’s slogan. Also related: try to avoid purchasing a Job 1 vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        What does that terminology mean, again? Someone told me once, but I’ve forgotten.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          at least with DCX and Ford, “Job #1” or “J1” is considered the start of volume production of a new model or model year as far as the program timing is concerned.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave W

            Within a week of buying our new 2011 Fiesta the (manual) transmission started to hop out of gear in R. The dealer tried a fix. When that didn’t work they told us to start lemon proceedings because it being a new model it would take them 3 months to get a new transmission for it. We instead told them we would wait. After putting about 4K miles on their loaner we got our car back. 94K miles later no other non wear and tear problems to report.

        • 0 avatar
          360joules

          The “Quality is Job 1” slogan was omnipresent in Ford advertising for nearly 16 years and the basis of much of Ford’s US media buys for radio & TV for the early & mid 1980’s. For some serious link following, see below. Kind of surprised no one had already responded to Kyree’s post.
          http://www.autonews.com/article/20160629/RETAIL03/160629819/robert-cox-ad-man-behind-fords-quality-is-job-1-pitch-dies?X-IgnoreUserAgent=1

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        Job 1 Ford owner here, can confirm that’s sound advice.

  • avatar

    Shout out to all the Z06 owners with overheating issues!!!

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      That, too? I thought it was just factory oil contamination, followed by rod snappage.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, there’ve been some heat-soak issues with the LT4.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Just curious….would not a HELLCAT with its supercharged engine, also have a heat soak issue if it was driven at the same level as a Zo6 on a track. I know the idea of such an overweight vehicle on a track is kind of mirth-inducing, but still…inquiring minds want to know….

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            Brakes would fail first. That saves the engine from heatsoak limp mode:(.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            Few things:

            On the passenger-side there coolant reservoir serves the supercharger’s charge cooler/heat exchanger circuit and is divorced entirely from the engine’s regular coolant circuitry and reservoir. 104F for the supercharger coolant circuit and 194 for the larger cooling system. I’m not aware of such issue with the Z06—but I’ve never studied the vehicle up close.

            The vents in the hood (Charger/Challenger) are on the cars for engine bay cooling as well as preventing front end lift. They do not feed air into the supercharger circuit.

            Chrysler has taken the cars out to a 3 mile road course for 20+ laps—the engines did not de-rate due to cooling issues. Ambient temperature was 100F and that was a set performance target by Chrysler. The first item above is why the HELLCAT does not have issues with power de-rating when on the track.

            Chrysler has tested the cars with the ZF 8 speed as well as the 6 speed manual; both of them do not have heat cooling issues. From what I’ve read with the Corvette most of the issues stem from cars with the automatic transmission—-GM has gone on record to say that they don’t expect the automatic cars to be tracked and when left in “D” thermal limitations are reached faster than on manual cars. I would say as well that GM’s performance target of 86F ambient is a shade bit low. (Again HELLCAT was targeted at 100F ambient). I’ve read that the front license plate bracket blocks airflow to the engine on the Corvette–which is another contributor. It doesn’t explain on why these cooling issues were not found during GM’s testing of these cars. It’s beyond me on how they let cars get delivered to customers that would overheat on 1-2 hot laps.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If he started a GoFundMe, he could afford this effort.

    His experience sounds like my 05 Odyssey, which broke the morning after I bought it. The hellish ownership lasted 20 months, ending with a lemon law victory and a small check. But I went through a contingency firm to do it, rather than attempting it myself.

    GM will find that it’s cheaper to simply refund his money.

  • avatar
    jrhmobile

    Cool. If they want to play stupid games, give ’em stupid prizes. Go thermonuclear on ’em!

    Find an ambitious, TV-loving legal shark and run up a big-ass tab on GM. Pimp this story in the press relentlessly. Sic Nancy Grace, Bill O’Reilly and even frickin’ Jim Cramer on their sorry ass. Recover damages, expenses and a good-sized chunk of GM’s good will out of the deal.

    Justice delayed isn’t the same thing as justice denied. Serve up GM legal on a silver platter and enjoy!

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Totally agree; he should find a way to go all out.

      • 0 avatar
        Von

        +1

        The court of public opinion is a powerful force in the age of social media.

        There are pluses and minuses for that, but a definite plus in this case.

        Also, I would start tagging DW in everything if I were that guy.

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        Here is the thing though, this guy bought the car with 28000 miles, and the dealer called it a “dealer demo”. This was not a new car by any stretch. If anything, I suspect there are dealer shenanigans at work here, and GM is ultimately paying the price. In Georgia, they must consider a car with 28000 miles to be “new” if it is labeled as a dealer demo. Most states do not feel the same.

        Interestingly, a friend of mine bought a used SRX some time ago, this one was also some sort of dealer special. He had to budget $350.00 per month for the repair bills, not to mention his time.

        So, a somewhat defective automobile combined with dealership shenanigans and what sounds like a bad service department results in the above…

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          quite possible. like I said elsewhere, Steve Lehto did a podcast where he described Chrysler having to buy back a Ram pickup because the dealer didn’t disclose that the wheels had been stolen and the truck dropped on the ground prior to delivery to the buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      because fox news fights for the rights of the average man? seriously?

  • avatar
    FOG

    “Victories are most often won by complainants in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Law.”

    This sounds like the Georgia arbitrators don’t rule based on the facts, but side with the small guy in the fight. GM really has no option but to appeal all of them in hopes of receiving a more honest outcome in court. There appears to be a problem with the law in Georgia.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Unlike Tesla, which can justifiably blame its customers for inattentive driving, I don’t see how GM has much of a defense when their product can’t stay out of the repair shop.

      Whether the Georgia legal system is broken is another, unrelated matter.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        weeeellll… most lemon laws say you can seek relief if the car has been out of service for a particular number of days, OR if they’ve made 4 unsuccessful attempts to repair the same defect.

        so it’s possible an incompetent dealer service center could trigger a buyback simply because they couldn’t fix the problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      Why do some people identify so fully with soulless corporations rather than with everyday people? Of course the arbitrator would find for the complainant more often. Do you imagine people go the lemon law route for pleasure? Most surely have lemons. It has to be documented in arbitration. For GM to take it to court is just a power game the little guy will lose at, even if he wins.

      • 0 avatar
        FOG

        Interesting conclusion, Jeff. No, I don’t imagine people go the lemon law route for pleasure. They go because they know that the arbitrator is going to side with them no matter what. If Georgia wants this to stop they could simply change the law that allows GM to appeal. Corporations survive by using any rule or law that keeps the stockholders happy. I don’t identify with large corporations, but I understand how they work and choose my battles wisely. I would never be the boss of GM because I think they should fire some lawyers and use the money to buy back lemons and figure out how to make a better car.

        • 0 avatar

          “Victories are most often won by complainants in Georgia…” is not the same as “the arbitrator is going to side with them no matter what.”
          Most often implies more than 50% but not an overwhelming majority,as the wording would have been “almost invariably win” or some such.
          From the wording used I’d say that consumers win @ 60% of the time

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        Many Americans grew up believing in, “What’s good for GM is good for the country”. This sentiment was extended to most large corporations. I’ve got an elderly neighbor who believes that any negative talk of GM is near treasonous, and he’s convinced that Obama tried to destroy his favorite car maker.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I remember back when the Chevy Monza 2+2 was new, that an owner of an orange one here in Dallas, fed up with being blown off by the dealer (now-closed Steakley Chevrolet) and Chevrolet, hired a sign painter to paint giant lemons all over the car. The lemons had lettering inside them, detailing all the problems with the car, along with the name of the dealer. She eventually got a buyback.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    Bring back the ducks!

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I believe this is why DW has not been around , he won the suit and is now in hiding

  • avatar
    maserchist

    I’m speculating that a Cadillac & lemonade are not to the “winners” liking. Now he will find out just how many bugs he likes in his warm lemonade. Only limits are the depths of his wallet.

  • avatar
    tylermattikow

    Car was a three year old dealer demo, he paid 28k for a car that was 47k new but because it was never registered it was considered a new car. It sounds like he is trying to make a 20k profit on a well used car.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      That’s ridiculous. It was worth what he paid for it.

      If the dealer could have gotten $47k from someone else, they would have, and that also means he can’t get $47k out of it, either.

      Besides, the price has nothing to do with their lemony car.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      At what purchase price would you consider a vehicle exempt from lemon laws?

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        Has nothing to do with purchase price; rather it is determined by a length of time after taking delivery of a NEW vehicle. Around here, it is 1 year after taking delivery, but that varies.

        Either way, this was not a new vehicle. It was a few years old and had 28000 miles. The buyer took a gamble on a used “demo” car, lost, and now feels GM is responsible. This will be an interesting suit to follow. In my opinion, this one falls on the dealer more than anything.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I don’t see why you think GM would care. They sold the car to the *dealer,* not this guy. What the dealer sold it for is of no interest to GM.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    GM has spent the last four decades trying to scoop their reputation out of the gutter, investing billions to do so. It baffles me why GM would continue to pursue this in front of the court of public opinion. Geez, bite the bullet, cut the guy a check, and spend those legal savings on building a better product out of the gate.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      what “legal savings?” any company the size of GM has full-time legal staff who they’re paying no matter what. Lemon law claims are usually pretty easy for the buyer to win, so if they’re fighting this one then they think they have good reason to.

      • 0 avatar
        e30gator

        Of course they don’t actually give a fig about the legal costs. That’s peanuts for GM. The point I was making is the cost in damage to their already fragile reputation. You’d think until they earn themselves a Honda-like brand image (which may take decades), the smart move would be to pay out unhappy customers citing the lemon law and keep it hush-hush.

        It’s not like there’s a waiting list for people wanting a new CTS. As if people need another reason to check out a Lexus dealership instead.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        Every case has a marginal and opportunity cost. Do you think one of those GM legal staffers lives in Georgia and shows up to court for just their salary? No travel or lodging fees?

        And the full time staff could do other things rather than litigate this case like figure out why a supplier going bankrupt put GM’s factories over the fire. That’s the opportunity cost. ]

        And don’t discount the bad publicity. This story is in the news. Quality is as much about perception as actual quality. How do you think this impacts peoples’ perception of GM quality?

        If there’s no opportunity cost because the legal department has a lot of people sitting idle then there’s another problem.

        • 0 avatar
          JD23

          “If there’s no opportunity cost because the legal department has a lot of people sitting idle then there’s another problem.”

          I was about the post the same thing regarding opportunity cost. GM pursuing this case so vigorously only to keep its legal staff busy sounds like textbook “Old GM”.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            If you think GM is fighting this case simply to give its legal staff “something to do,” then I don’t know what to say to you. because that is the dumbest thing I’ve heard today. lucky for you it’s 7 a.m. so there’s plenty of time for you to be outdone.

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            “If you think GM is fighting this case simply to give its legal staff “something to do,” then I don’t know what to say to you”

            That was sarcasm pointed at your moronic assertion that the cost for GM to fight low-value legal cases is essentially zero because, in your less than wise words, “GM has full-time legal staff who they’re paying no matter what.”

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I never said it was “zero.”

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      The fact that GM is choosing to appeal, rather than just suck it up, makes me wonder if maybe there isn’t something else going on here. Perhaps the Caddy owner is out of touch with reality.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    From the story:

    “I’m not sure why they’re picking this fight. I suspect they don’t like the fact that Mr. Morse got such a good deal on this vehicle.”

    The sticker was more than $47,000. But Morse only paid $28,000.

    The Cadillac was a 3-year-old dealer demo, but legally a new car.”

    The article says he had trouble with the tail lights, sunroof and windshield, plus tranny problems. I bet the tail lights were the cracked top tab issue, which allows them to come away from the body slightly. I’d also bet the sunroof must’ve been the clogged drain tube grommets causing leaks inside the cabin, which was always misdiagnosed as trouble with the roof itself. I’m not so sure this car is a lemon.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      It doesn’t really manner if it’s defective from a fundamental standpoint, or if the issues are easily-remediable; thee law protects consumers when those issues are recurring, and when automakers (or their agents) are unwilling or unable to rectify them.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Steve Lehto did a podcast about a lemon law buyback he handled; it was for a Dodge truck which had a vibration at speed that the dealer couldn’t fix after repeated tries. Turned out that after the truck was delivered and sitting on the lot, someone stole the wheels and dropped the truck on the ground, messing up the suspension. The dealer just slapped on new wheels/tires and delivered the truck.

        So Chrysler ended up having to buy back a vehicle that was damaged by an external party.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “I’m not so sure this car is a lemon.”

      Well, the court declared that it was.

      My Honda actually had about 7 problems, but the faulty sliding door became the only thing admissible in PA lemon court. Here, they require the fault to remain broken after 3 attempts to repair it in the first year. I don’t know Georgia’s law.

      Regardless, GM will lose this one in the court of public opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      ““I’m not sure why they’re picking this fight. I suspect they don’t like the fact that Mr. Morse got such a good deal on this vehicle.””

      I doubt that; GM doesn’t know or care what a customer pays when they buy a car. GM’s customer is the dealer. It’s immaterial to them what the dealer sold the car for.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Hey that’s the spirit, way to take care of your customers!

    BS like this is why I will never purchase an American car, disgusting.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “American” has nothing to do with it. My lemon brand was a Honda, and nearly a VW (at the same time, yay!).

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Did Honda fight you past a lemon law judgement like GM does? If they did, then you have a point. If not, you might be the next customer GM is looking for.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Those darn American manufacturers. My dad purchased a Ford pickup back in the 80’s. A month later, the oil dropped out of it (all at once) on a trip and wrecked the motor. Ford gave him a new truck.

      His next three vehicles were Fords.

  • avatar
    MWolf

    If the car was a demo, it probably had next to no mileage. My boss bought a 3 year old demo BMW. It had 695 miles on it.

    GM made a lemon. Why is that so bad to say? He’s not going to get more than he paid. He simply doesn’t want to spend his time getting it fixed over and over.

  • avatar
    John

    Good Lord – this is Volkswagen-level stupidity. Your “luxury” brand is failing – so you draw national attention to poor quality by suing over an issue virtually nobody had heard of until today. I estimate GM will lose at least twenty times in new Cadillac sales what it would have cost to provide this fellow with a new, replacement Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      Whittaker

      Spot on John.
      Eighteen years ago GM treated me badly on two new vehicles with numerous quality problems.
      Since then I have spent approximately $170,000 buying vehicles and not one has been a GM.
      I also steer my family and friends away from them.
      A couple times a year I test drive a Sierra, Yukon or Acadia. After running the crap out of it, I return it to the dealer and say it is very nice and I’d think it over, a big smile on my face.

  • avatar
    hifi

    Well gosh, the complainants should usually win. If they didn’t have any issues, no one would be suing GM or any other automaker. It’s one thing to build and sell a crappy car. That’s to be expected from time to time by any automaker. But it’s how these defective cars are handled that makes all the difference. GM is completely stupid to have let this issue get to the point that this article was ever written. GM needs to show the world that they are not the same loser company that they used to be. This isn’t helping.

  • avatar
    mtmmo

    Maybe I’m missing something but his GM experience seems to be totally normal.

  • avatar
    skor

    When I was a kid a local man bought a Cadillac diesel (yes, I’m old). Anyway, for those of you who don’t know about Cadillac’s now infamous diesel experiment, Google and learn. This man was not happy with his car and demanded a full refund. GM refused. They offered to replace the diesel engine in his car with a gas engine. There were no ‘Lemon Laws’ in Jersey at the time. Instead the unhappy Caddy owner painted “GM Makes Defective Cars” on the sides and back of the car. He also made up some fliers detailing his car’s woes and handed them out to anyone who was interested. A local newspaper wrote a story and GM’s legal department lost its shiat, sent this man a ‘cease and desist’ threatening to sue him back to the stone age. This got a lawyer involved who took the case pro bono and one of the local TV news stations picked up the story. Few weeks later GM took back the car and the owner got a check from GM for the full amount.

    • 0 avatar
      pbxtech

      The dealer is likely the problem. If he was treated well he would have likely given them a break or just traded the thing in. Nobody wants to go through this kind of hassle. They just want a reliable vehicle, Honda and Toyota have amassed quite a following doing just that. My last Chevy in 1990 was an example of that. When my children needed cars, I steered them away from Chevy too.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    Thank you GM for reminding me why I’ll never purchase another one of your vehicles. GM free since 2003 !!!

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I’ve purchased gm since 2003 when the motor blew on a AMG C32. $30,000 for a hand assembled motor that luckily was under warranty.

      Enter 2004 Cadillac CTS-V and I have never looked back. They offer the most for less like no other manufacturer.

      Not sure why dealerships can’t replace a engine or transmission component or a electrical wiring harness.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Mr. Stevenson,

    There’s a bit more to this story that you’re not reporting to your readers. Lemon laws are for new cars. In Georgia, legally, this is considered a new car but as I understand it, it was a three year old dealer demo and had close to 30,000 miles on it.

    Why not include this information in your post? Surely you know that when people hear lemon law they think new car.

    If you’re going to report, then report.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      It is a new car doesn’t need to be of 0 mileage and 0 year old.

      The fact that the car is ruled to be a lemon is enough of a proof that car is new. Otherwise the case would have been thrown out.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        Legally, I agree. In my opinion, the other information is relevant and was omitted.

        When I think new car, I don’t think three years old and 30,000 miles.

        Additionally, what’s the age and mileage range for a typical dealer demo? By how much does this car fall out of that range?

        I feel like the headline and the piece didn’t include certain information because there’s a good chance that the response would’ve been more muted.

        If there are mitigating circumstances, lay them on the table. Don’t keep them behind a veil.

  • avatar
    wsn

    I fail to see why would anyone choose to buy a GM, especially post bail-out.

    The sucker got what he deserved: a crappy car and a waste of time.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Every time I start thinking domestic cars might be worth looking at again something arises to blow the thought away. The Detroit Three, it seems, are slow learners.

  • avatar
    jammyjo

    If it’s dealer shenanigans, then it should be another nail in the coffin for new car dealership retail model.

  • avatar

    Without passing on the validity of this guy’s claim….

    Car dealers, and Car makers, are a very hard target, legally. They have limitless money and time. You have a big investment that doesn’t work, a job you have to work, and at this point, some mis-handling by a franchisee. You want this fixed correctly now…and they don’t care.

    They know that x percent of the cars have defects. No matter how hard you try, you will sell a few lemons…and conversely, there are folks who got Olds Diesels and Chevy Vegas that ran perfectly….

    The other problem is that the car is used…and the company will always blame the owner for the result.

    Attorney’s letters don’t scare car dealers..the only real leverage you have is, if right after sale, you can get them to rescind (before making a payment) and bring the lender in….Dealers don’t want problems with the lender.

    Their attorneys are already on retainer, so there is zero cost to run you into the ground. You won’t find contingency for these cases, so the fight tends to be limited to folks who already have money…you’ll get more blowback from Caddy, BMW and Audi buyers than cheap car buyers. Those cases get a cost no object defense from the Car makers/dealers, because they don’t want anyone to set a precedent.

    The next time someone proposes raising the small claims limits in your area, note who will come out against it…the insurance companies, and your local car dealers, through a trade organization. The LAST thing they want is local folk before a local judge in a user friendly forum. Keeping small claims low allows a lot of nonsense to occur as things over small claim have to go to a higher court…with higher costs and attorney required.

  • avatar
    BrunoT

    The writer/editor’s knowledge of the law seems to match GM’s knowledge of engineering.

    You don’t “take someone to court” if you appeal an arbiter’s decision.

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