*UPDATE: We have now also received a statement from the Model S owner in question, which has been added below.

When we asked Tesla Motors for a statement on the lawsuit filed by the "King of Lemon Laws" the other day, the company told us that it does not comment on pending litigation. Fair enough. That's a standard response. But the company has since felt the need to comment on the issue using its own company blog.

In a post called "When Life Gives You Lemons...," the Tesla Motors Team called lawyer Vince Megna (indirectly) an "opportunistic lawyer" and basically called him a liar. To wit: "... there are factual inaccuracies in the lawyer's story." Tesla says that the three claimed incidents when the Model S owner in question asked the automaker to buy the car back did not happen (Tesla acknowledges it happening once). And then the company basically says the owner was breaking his car on purpose:

... the car's fuse blew on three occasions. Each time, our engineers explored all possible explanations and were never able to find anything wrong with the car. Still, just to be sure, we replaced several parts that could have been related to the alleged problem – all at no expense to the customer. When the fuse kept blowing despite the new parts, and faced with no diagnosis showing anything wrong with the car, the engineers were moved to consider the possibility that the fuse had been tampered with. After investigating, they determined that the car's front trunk had been opened immediately before the fuse failure on each of the three occasions. (The fuse is accessed through the front trunk.) Ultimately, Tesla service applied non-tamper tape to the fuse switch. From that point on, the fuse performed flawlessly.

We've got the entire response below, along with Megna's response to Tesla's statement. The key line: "There are companies, great companies run by Billionaires, that force consumers to give up their Freedom of Speech and Right to Trial by Jury just for the opportunity to buy an electric car." You can watch Megna's original video introducing the world to this case here.
Show full PR text
When Life Gives You Lemons...
By The Tesla Motors Team

April 9, 2014

We were taken by surprise by a lemon law claim recently filed against Tesla by a Wisconsin lawyer, describing himself as the "Lemon Law King", who says that we ignored his client's three demands for a buy-back after alleged problems with a Model S.

First, let us state that we believe in lemon laws – they exist to protect customers against cars that repeatedly suffer defects. That's a worthy thing to address. We also make a point of going above and beyond in customer service, which extends to buying back cars on fair terms from any customer who ultimately remains unsatisfied with their vehicle. We never want someone to be unhappy in their ownership of a Model S.

In this case, however, there are good reasons to be skeptical of the lawyer's motivations. The service record shows that the Tesla service team did everything reasonably possible to help his client and they were continuing their efforts to service his vehicle right up until the point the suit was filed with no warning. Indeed, our service team, which has been in contact with the customer numerous times since November, is still trying to resolve his stated concerns, many of which have elusive origins.

This lawyer's claim strikes us as unusual on several counts. For a start, it contradicts the general customer experience as measured by outside surveys. The annual Consumer Reports survey, for instance, gave Model S top marks for owner satisfaction, with a score of 99/100, the highest rating of any car ever. That doesn't mean a single customer can't have a bad overall experience, but it makes it highly unlikely. The claim also doesn't jibe with the other accolades afforded to the car, including Consumer Reports' "Best Overall" designation for its Top Picks 2014 awards, and the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year award.

More tellingly, however, there are factual inaccuracies in the lawyer's story. The customer did not make three demands for a buy-back. The only time any such claim was made was in a legal form letter sent to Tesla in November 2013 as a prerequisite for pursuing the claim in Wisconsin. Our service team was in close contact with the customer both before and after we received the letter, and the possibility of a buy-back was never mentioned during those discussions.

To give you a sense of our service relationship with this customer, it's worth considering our efforts to resolve two of his main complaints. One related to malfunctioning door handles. Even though our service team wasn't able to replicate the issue with the door handles as described, we replaced all the handles anyway. Despite the fix, the customer said the problem persisted. We were never able to reproduce the alleged malfunction but offered to inspect the car again and are still trying to do so.

Another issue was that the car's fuse blew on three occasions. Each time, our engineers explored all possible explanations and were never able to find anything wrong with the car. Still, just to be sure, we replaced several parts that could have been related to the alleged problem – all at no expense to the customer. When the fuse kept blowing despite the new parts, and faced with no diagnosis showing anything wrong with the car, the engineers were moved to consider the possibility that the fuse had been tampered with. After investigating, they determined that the car's front trunk had been opened immediately before the fuse failure on each of the three occasions. (The fuse is accessed through the front trunk.) Ultimately, Tesla service applied non-tamper tape to the fuse switch. From that point on, the fuse performed flawlessly.

It's also of interest to note that this particular lawyer filed a lemon law suit against Volvo in February last year – on behalf of the very same client.

We are continuing our efforts to work with the customer and are happy to address any legitimate concerns he has about his Model S. Customer service remains of utmost importance to Tesla, and no Model S owner should be unhappy with their car. However, we would also like the public to be aware of the potential for lemon laws to be exploited by opportunistic lawyers.


Rebuttal to Tesla's Blog Post
April 10, 2014

In Response to Tesla Blog:

In this case, Tesla ignored three lemon law demands from its customer. Tesla received the refund demands under Wisconsin's Lemon Law on 11-25-13, 12-13-13 and 12-19-13. All demands were sent by certified mail, delivered and verifiable on USPS.com. Tesla erroneously states in its blog, "the customer did not make three demands for a buyback."

Under the demands, Tesla was given 30 days to provide a refund. The vehicle was presented four times for the same nonconformity, and the vehicle was out of service for 66 days – 36 more than is allowed under the lemon law. Failure to provide a refund within the 30-day time period constitutes a violation of the Wisconsin lemon law. Tesla did not provide the refund or respond in any way – no call, no letter, no blog post.

Service personal/auto mechanics do not have involvement in the decision to buy back a car. That decision is made by the manufacturer – Tesla Motors, Inc. In not responding to my client's demand, Tesla's decision was clear. Tesla should not be "taken by surprise" with the suit, or claim it was "filed with no warning." The warning came last November.

Tesla may "believe in lemon laws," it just doesn't know how they work.

Tesla takes the big corporation approach by attacking its customer, rather than addressing its own failures. Diminish the person – make everything his fault. Blame your customer for problems that have "elusive origins." Or, allege foul play because a "fuse blew on three occasions," and "engineers were moved to consider the possibility that the fuse had been tampered with." Why not instead be moved to consider that Tesla has a problematic Model S that they just can't fix?

It's common on Tesla forums that door handles don't work...that customers can't get in their cars. That is precisely that problem that has persisted in this case. Door handles not presenting is nothing new to Tesla.

My client filed a lawsuit against Tesla. It remains obligated under the terms of the warranty to continue to repair defects with the Model S, not because of customer service, not because Tesla wants a happy customer, but because Tesla is required to by law.

I too find it "of interest" that more than one manufacturer rolls out a lemon now and then. Just today Toyota recalled 6 Million vehicles, and in the past few months, GM recalled 5.1 Million. Maybe tomorrow Tesla will buy back a lemon or two.

As a member of the "public" I appreciate your company taking the time to provide a Public Service Announcement that Lemon Laws can be "exploited by opportunistic lawyers."

I too, have a Public Service Announcement: There are companies, great companies run by Billionaires, that force consumers to give up their Freedom of Speech and Right to Trial by Jury just for the opportunity to buy an electric car.


Statement of Robert Montgomery
Regarding Tesla Blog Post 4-9-14

I am a medical doctor. I retired as a Colonel from the United States Army after 23 years of service. I served in Iraq, Kosovo, Nicaragua and South Korea providing medical care to soldiers and the local population. I was also a flight surgeon.

I am highly offended by Tesla's allegation that I tampered with the fuse, and that the problems with the car are my fault. I have never tampered with my Model S or any part of it. The Blog post disappoints me because it is a clear attempt to transfer responsibility for a defective vehicle from Tesla to me.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 138 Comments
      Marco Polo
      • 8 Months Ago
      As I said when this issue first arose, I have a tremendous dislike of grandstanding lawyer behaving like circus performers. It lowers public respect for not just the legal profession, but the judicial system, the law and the parties involved in the case. It's sad, but some US jurisdictions appear to not only tolerate such antics but encourage such behaviour. Even more, I dislike " trial by media ". (especially social media). The correct place for the issues to be contested, and the evidence evaluated is in the controlled environment of a court. Dr Montgomery has brought this legal action, as is his legal right. While I detest mischievous or vexatious litigants, every person must be allowed the right to come to court unmolested, and be heard impartially and without any pre-conceptions. If Dr Montgomery's claims are independently proven to false or wildly exaggerated, and if his attorney has wilfully 'manufactured a tort to extort gain, they should be exposed, vilified and dealt with severely, as an example to discourage others from pursuing similar conduct. However, the case is yet to be heard, and in all fairness, Dr Montgomery should be allowed his day in court without being the butt of abuse and pre-judgement from a lynch mob of emotional Tesla fans. Dr Montgomery might have been better advised to have hired a lawyer with a better sense of gravitas. His lawyer's publicity seeking antics, have already detracted massively from the creditability of Dr Mongomery's grievances. Tesla does have a reputation for being intolerant of criticism, and litigating when conciliating might be wiser . Of course that doesn't mean Tesla should allow itself to become the victim of malicious or opportunistic extortion. In such circumstances, Tesla should stand it's ground. It will be interesting to see what emerges from this case.
        Joeviocoe
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Yep... and since Dr. Montgomery could not help himself... and rebutted on the TMC forum... he essentially opted into "trial by jury". Most of us would probably have been happy just awaiting the results of the pending litigation. But the lawyer brought this into social media, Tesla responded on said media, (because the court of public opinion is won or lost here), and now Montgomery has responded too. It seems the parties involved wanted to fight on social media... and that is what they got.
          Joeviocoe
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Well... there was a time when news journalism was a trusted institution in the US. The 4th estate. Not anymore. Corporate sponsorship has taken over the media and filled it with bias. So it can no longer be trusted with objective information dissemination. Which is why collaborative media (social networks) have become a channel of choice. It now has the power to topple tyrannical governments... as well as investigate fraud and litigation apparently. Certainly not as accurate as waiting for the court case and the judgement... but more accurate than reading "news" about it.
          Marco Polo
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          @ Joeviocoe, Sadly, Joe that would appear to be true, a deplorable 'sign of the times' !
          Joeviocoe
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Indeed journalism was never perfect. But it has declined since then... so much, that instead of 10% fabricated news... it is 90%. Now we have to spend hours sifting through the BS to find the nuggets of truth.
          Rotation
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Joeevicoe: William Randolph Hearst was a long time ago now. Your belief that somehow journalism used to be an uncorrupted bastion is not accurate for any reasonable timeframe.
      Rotation
      • 8 Months Ago
      What is a "fuse switch"? Sounds like a demon customer here, and a jerk lawyer. Is that redundant? But it sounds like Tesla screwed up their PR efforts again. Before you state something, verify it Tesla. Even ask the other party privately before you make a public statement they didn't ask for refunds. Tesla probably should invest in some PR training. This situation is one that can be handled deftly and well and they've just muddled through it.
        Joeviocoe
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        Where is Tesla saying that the customer, "didn't ask for refunds"? They are disputing how many times an official legal requests for a refund was made. The lawyer has already been shown to lie about several things... so why are you willing to take his word that there were multiple official requests for refunds? Tesla's PR is fine in this instance. They are pushing back from frivolous lawsuits, shyster lawyers and a case of likely fraud. In this case, the best PR is NOT to just play nice and be amenable... but to call out BS and show evidence of fraud. Which they are doing.
          Rotation
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          3 requests for a buyback are 3 requests for a buyback. They don't cease to be just because Tesla says so.
        purrpullberra
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        Your personal problems with Elon cloud your opinions of him greatly. You try to come off as balanced but by always saying Elon and Tesla are failing in PR terms you show exactly how prejudiced you are when it comes to defending Tesla publicly. Yes, Elon should be perfect, so should Tesla and DAMN them for not being Rotation approved. Anything else?
          Rotation
          • 8 Months Ago
          @purrpullberra
          I didn't say Elon should be perfect. I said Tesla should do better on PR. If Elon can't be perfect (likely he can't) then get other people to help temper the press releases before making them. It is absurd for you to call me out for being biased just be exhibiting your own biases.
      hmadden
      • 8 Months Ago
      More lawsuits need to be filed against lawyers filing opportunistic junk lawsuits.
      Barry Hubris
      • 8 Months Ago
      Someone needs to teach Tesla how to write. I get the feeling Musk gets involved in these things and he shouldn't. Reminds me of an eastern European boss I had... genius millionaire who took everything personally.
        bluepongo1
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Barry Hubris
        @ Barry Hubris & Dr. Rotation ( both great , telling names BTW ) 7 billion + people, con-artists & you two =/= customers whose input Tesla Motors has to care about.
        jeff
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Barry Hubris
        So, telling the truth is a bad idea?
          Joeviocoe
          • 8 Months Ago
          @jeff
          "The high-voltage battery in the pack, allegedly, had enough power to move the car a much greater distance than needed to move the car onto a flatbed, maybe as far as five miles, but the 12V battery that powers the accessories and gets its juice from the high voltage battery shut down when Broder pulled into the service station.P When Broder decided to turn the car off, which was a mistake, the parking brake (operated by the 12V battery) was rendered unusable. If Broder was told not to turn the car off, it's his mistake. If Tesla told him to do it, or didn't inform him he shouldn't do it, then it's their mistake." --Jalopnik --"If the car refuses to move, it refuses to move" and --"3 requests for a buyback are 3 requests for a buyback." Your arguments are so circular. Circumstance matter for both. Spamming 3 letters back to back before Tesla was required to respond... is NOT 3 requests. As was independently concluded in the Broder case. Both were right about the 'no juice' part. Elon was right to question the circumstances of the "breakdown" and it was later found out that Broder lied about the details of the trip's charging. The implication was that there was something more than just a "ran out of juice, called a tow truck." But rather, didn't charge up as needed, drove around for 10 minutes while at 0 miles left, and a bunch of other items. --"You completely have changed the topic here." Actually, YOU tried to change the topic from Tesla, to Audi. I brought the topic a bit closer to the original topic. --"Ask the head of Audi during the sudden acceleration thing about it." -Rotation --"The issue is whether Tesla are also putting themselves in the wrong and being overly aggressive. It is not to Tesla's advantage to attack without checking on information first. And again, better yet, don't attack at all." They did have the log information beforehand. What else would you like them to "check" beforehand? That there are 3 copies of the same letter? --" The lawyer sent 3 letters. When Tesla says it didn't get 3 requests, they are wrong if they arrived at a different number simply by not counting some of the requests." Wrong. THAT is "splitting hairs". The same letter 3 in separate envelopes is NOT 3 requests. So maybe you and Megna have something in common... you treat the envelope as a single request, rather than the actual request for a refund. But why should Tesla consider the envelope to be a legal document? This is the same behavior that Megna used to harass Fisker dealerships. He showed up Michael Moore style with a camera, a Justin Bieber cutout, and a duct taped paralegal... demanding answered. And he considered THAT to be legal communication with Fisker. ---------- You must be the only one left still defending Megna and Broder. There is a reason nobody is giving them the "benefit of doubt" anymore. They have proven to be liars, or exaggerators at best. --"Tesla is not going to be out of business by not att
          Rotation
          • 8 Months Ago
          @jeff
          'Once again, you are splitting hairs about the single thing that the plaintiff may have been truthful about' You have to be kidding me. You say that Musk is right when he says the car wasn't out of juice simply because even thought it completely refused to movie it still had some charge in the battery? The customer doesn't care and shouldn't. If the car refuses to move, it refuses to move. You are putting a massive hair split on here simply because you can then find a way to absolve Musk for attacking a person and saying he only pretended the car was immobile. And then on top of that you want to call me out for hairsplitting? Seriously, this is the tops. You completely have changed the topic here. My point is not whether this customer (or Broder) is in the wrong. The issue is whether Tesla are also putting themselves in the wrong and being overly aggressive. It is not to Tesla's advantage to attack without checking on information first. And again, better yet, don't attack at all. Tesla is not going to be out of business by not attacking customers. You can defend without putting incorrect information in the press about your (demon) customers. That's what Tesla should be doing. And no, if Tesla were to ignore two requests it doesn't mean that "they are both right". The lawyer sent 3 letters. When Tesla says it didn't get 3 requests, they are wrong if they arrived at a different number simply by not counting some of the requests. As to multiple links on AB, maybe something has changed. Last time I tried it, your post had to be authorized by an AB mod before it posted. And I got tired of posts being held up for moderation so I stopped posting two links at once. Maybe you don't mind the delay or maybe it's gone now, I can't be bothered to check. As I mentioned, I'm sure you could google up the other. That's not really going to kill you to have to do that if you want that link, is it?
        Joeviocoe
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Barry Hubris
        Being nice gets you bankrupt if you let people write lies about you and sue you using fraudulent claims.
      Michaele
      • 8 Months Ago
      Smash this smegma facer lawyer.
      Joeviocoe
      • 8 Months Ago
      Wow... something shady going on with that fuse. Gotta love how Tesla vehicles maintains such precise logs... reminds me of how network security and forensics is done. The frunk was opened 'just BEFORE' the fuse blows? If the fuse is not related to the frunk light, and no wire harnesses are pinched by the hinges... then it is likely being tampered with (or something is very loose). But the fact that tamper tape was applied and the problem did not return... kinda implies they driver is being less than forthcoming.
      • 8 Months Ago
      "Ultimately, Tesla service applied non-tamper tape to the fuse switch. From that point on, the fuse performed flawlessly." If this is proven to be the case, it blows the lawsuit completely out of the water with any jury who understands the implication.
      artspeedperformance
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'm not a doctor, but I have played one on TV. Therefore, ignore everything I say regarding medical advice because it is irrelevant.
      • 8 Months Ago
      noooo Public Defenders Suck
      Joeviocoe
      • 8 Months Ago
      Another case of.... "I would've gotten away with it too... if it hadn't been for those meddling logs"
      sixsix
      • 8 Months Ago
      Tort Reform oh Tort Reform, where art thou?
      EvilTollMan
      • 8 Months Ago
      Vince Smegma
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