Fourth DCA Reverses Order Granting Attorney’s Fees in Lemon Law Arbitration as “Damages” Under Section 681.112(1), Fla. Stat.

Chrysler Group, LLC v. Musacchia, 4D10-212
June 8, 2011

The Fourth District Court of Appeal recently reversed a trial court decision granting a claim for attorney’s fees under section 681.112(1), Florida Statutes (2006).  The Musacchias filed a successful arbitration action against Chrysler with the Lemon Law New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board after they experienced numerous problems with a Jeep Commander they had leased. The board determined that the vehicle was in fact a “lemon” and that the Musacchias were entitled to a refund. The Musacchias later filed suit under section 681.112(1) seeking their attorney’s fees from the arbitration as “damages” resulting from their purchase of the vehicle.  The trial court awarded the Musacchias their attorney’s fees.

On appeal, the Fourth District, citing its recent decision in General Motors v. Bowie, 58 So. 3d 934, 935 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011), held that “‘damages’ under section 681.112 do not include attorney’s fees incurred in pursuing the refund option through arbitration.” Consequently, the Fourth District reversed the decision of the trial court with directions to enter judgment for Chrysler.