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SINGER v. LAND ROVER NORTH AMERICA

March 18, 1997

EVAN SINGER, Plaintiff,
v.
LAND ROVER NORTH AMERICA, INCORPORATED, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ORLOFSKY

 ORLOFSKY, District Judge:

 Plaintiff filed this action against Land Rover North America, Inc. ("Land Rover"), alleging, inter alia, a violation of New Jersey's Consumer Protection Law ("Lemon Law"). *fn1" N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 56:12-29 to 12-49. Land Rover has moved for partial summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(b) on plaintiff's Lemon Law claim. Land Rover maintains that, as a former lessee, who no longer has possession of the automobile in question, plaintiff cannot avail himself of the remedies provided by the Lemon Law.

 Defendant's motion raises an issue of first impression and requires this court to construe New Jersey's Lemon Law in a factual context unanticipated by its drafters. Because I conclude that the intent of the statute is to protect lessees, even if the lease term has expired, defendant's motion for partial summary judgment will be denied. *fn2"

 I. Facts and Procedural History

 On July 23, 1993, plaintiff signed a lease for a new, 1993 Range Rover sport utility vehicle. The lessor was Chase Manhattan Bank. The term of the lease was thirty-six (36) months, and the lease allowed 15,000 miles per year, or 45,000 miles over the entire term.

 Plaintiff periodically brought the Range Rover to the dealer, complaining of poor handling and stalling. Plaintiff contends that these conditions were not repaired. On April 26, 1996, approximately thirty-three (33) months into the lease, plaintiff filed this action.

 Sometime at the end of July, 1996, plaintiff returned the vehicle to the lessor. In early August, 1996, plaintiff's counsel informed defendant that plaintiff had returned the vehicle to the lessor. According to plaintiff's counsel, the vehicle was inspected by a representative of Land Rover on September 5, 1996, and subsequently sold at auction. Certif. of Delia A. Clark, Esq. PP 9-10.

 On January 21, 1997, this matter was referred to arbitration pursuant to Rule 47D of the General Rules of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. An arbitration hearing in this matter is currently scheduled for March 24, 1997.

 II. Standard of Review

 A party seeking summary judgment must "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that [he] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). See also Hersh v. Allen Products. Co., 789 F.2d 230, 232 (3d Cir. 1986); Lang v. New York Life Ins. Co., 721 F.2d 118, 119 (3d Cir. 1983). The district court must grant summary judgment when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Orson, Inc. v. Miramax Film Corp., 79 F.3d 1358, 1366 (3d Cir. 1996). In deciding whether there is a disputed issue of material fact, the Court must draw all inferences from the underlying facts in favor of the nonmoving party. See Hancock Indus. v. Schaeffer, 811 F.2d 225, 231 (3d Cir. 1987) (citation omitted); Pollock v. American Telephone & Telegraph Long Lines, 794 F.2d 860, 864 (3d Cir. 1986).

 For the purposes of this motion, the parties are in substantial agreement on the facts outlined above. This motion presents a pure question of statutory interpretation and, accordingly, is ripe for summary adjudication. See Nation Wide, Inc. v. Scullin, 256 F. ...


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