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Overweight Motor Home

A new RV owner soon found that his new motor home had several mechanical problems: the brakes smoked, tires blew out, and the vehicle didn’t handle well on the road. He kept returning the vehicle for repairs and modifications, eventually giving up in frustration and demanding his money back from the manufacturer under the New York Lemon Law. The arbitrator rejected his claim, however, contending that he had failed to comply with certain provisions to the letter of the law. Undaunted, the owner decided to institute a legal action for breach of contract against the dealer who had sold him the motor home.

We were retained by the plaintiff’s legal counsel, Bartlett, Pontiff, Stewart and Rhodes in Glens Falls, N.Y. The first thing the TA engineers discovered was that the vehicle, which supposedly could legally and safely transport five passengers and appropriate supplies, weighed more than federal law allowed. TA verified this by experiments using simulated loads distributed throughout the motor home and with the tanks filled with water, fuel and liquid propane. Even without camping equipment, clothes, personal items or cooking utensils aboard, the vehicle exceeded weight limitations. In fact, it was sufficiently overweight to compound the precise problems reported by the plaintiff.

As a result of our testimony, the jury found that there was indeed a breach of contract: the dealer should have warned the unsuspecting customer that the vehicle would be legally overweight when it was outfitted with the extras ordered. Therefore, the plaintiff won the case and got his money back.