26-239 C.M.R. ch. 106, § 11 - THE DECISION

Current through 2022-14, April 6, 2022

A. Form and timing of the decision. The arbitrator shall mail (return receipt requested) a decision in each case within 45 days of the acceptance date stamped on the request for arbitration form. At the discretion of the Attorney General, failure to mail the decision within such time period, or to hold the hearing within 44 days of acceptance of the request for arbitration, shall not invalidate the decision.

All decisions shall be in writing, dated and signed by the arbitrator, and mailed to both parties and the Attorney General.

The mailing date of the decision shall determine compliance with the 45 day requirement.

The arbitrator may make an oral decision at the hearing but it shall not be binding until a written decision is mailed.

B. Contents of the decision. The full written decision shall contain a summary of the evidence presented, a finding of facts, a conclusion of whether the motor vehicle meets the standards for refund or replacement, a clear calculation of the monetary award if the vehicle meets such standards, and an order if appropriate.

Any monetary award of the total purchase price or lease payments to date, collateral charges, and costs shall be calculated in accordance with 10 M.R.S.A. §1163, but may be affected by any previous rebates, awards or settlements made the consumer. Local excise taxes are not collateral charges for purposes of reimbursement. The "reasonable use allowance" shall be based on the mileage accumulated after delivery of the vehicle to the consumer buyer or lessee.

If a replacement vehicle is accepted by the consumer and the replacement vehicle has less mileage than the consumer's vehicle, then the manufacturer may require the consumer to pay a reasonable allowance for use based on the difference in mileage. This allowance shall be calculated according to 10 M.R.S.A. §1161, sub-§4.

C. Standards for refund or replacement. The arbitrator's decision shall only determine whether the motor vehicle does or does not meet the Lemon Law standards for refund or replacement.

As long as the arbitrator determines that:

1. The nonconformity(s) complained of continued to exist after the final opportunity to repair and substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle;
2. The consumer gave the manufacturer or dealer a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle as defined in 10 M.R.S.A. §1163 (an attempt to diagnose a defect after a vehicle has been returned for repair may count as a repair attempt even if no repairs were made); and
3. That all other requirements of 10 M.R.S.A. c. 203 have been met; then the arbitrator must find for the consumer, and order the manufacturer to make a refund or replacement within 21 days of receipt of the decision.
D. Determining whether a defect is substantial. In determining compliance with the nonconformity standard that the defect substantially impairs the use, safety, or value of the vehicle, the arbitrator shall consider the entirety of the circumstances in each case.

In determining whether the vehicle's "value" has been impaired the arbitrator may consider evidence that the vehicle's current market value is substantially lower than it would have been but for the nonconformity(s).

In determining whether the vehicle is substantially impaired, the arbitrator shall not consider evidence that the nonconformity(s) can be repaired given an additional attempt(s) subsequent to the hearing. Such evidence may be considered in determining whether there have been a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle.

Notes

26-239 C.M.R. ch. 106, § 11

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