Virginia Lemon laws

Does the lemon law apply to recreational vehicles?

A Pittsylvania County couple won a significant victory for consumers under the state's lemon law. In the past, judges found the law didn't apply to recreational vehicles. But it does now.

Henry and Suzanne Reynolds work and play hard. Travel is their reward. They bought a brand new RV, and they paid $211,000 for it. They purchased it two years ago, but they only used the Mandalay Motor Coach for 17 days. It's been in the shop the rest of that time.

The RV has so many problems, the Reynolds' lost count of them. But the couple wasn't too concerned. After all, Four Winds International's promotional literature says it's covered by "bumper to bumper" warranty.

If this had been a conventional car or truck, there would be no question: the state lemon law would require the company to give the couple a new RV, or give them their money back. But Four Winds relied on case law that held RV's are not really "motor vehicles."

While Judge Jackson Kiser declared Virginia's lemon law "perfectly ambiguous," he decided a motor home does fit the definition of "passenger car." The judge ruled that it was the intent of the General Assembly to alleviate the hardship on consumers caused by the purchase of defective motor vehicles. Most important, Judge Kiser ruled an RV is a motor vehicle.

While that's a major victory for the consumer, the Reynolds are a long way from getting their money back, or a new RV. Their complaint is set for trial in federal court next month.

Meanwhile, they're stuck making a monthly payment of $1,400.

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