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Hartford – Today marks the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the Connecticut Car Lemon Law, the first- in-the-nation consumer protection that has returned more than $60 million in refunds and replacement automobiles to Connecticut consumers. Its passage in Connecticut was followed by similar laws in every state in the country and several foreign countries.
“The Lemon Law was a big win for consumers,” said former State Representative John Woodcock, who authored and sponsored the bill as a freshman legislator. “Instead of forcing consumers to spend thousands of dollars and sometimes years in courts seeking recourse, the Lemon Law allows consumers to hold car manufactures directly responsible for their defective products.” Before the law, courts in Connecticut found that consumers could not hold car manufactures responsible, only dealers. The law legally defined what constituted a lemon and provided a remedy of a refund or replacement if a car qualified.
The Connecticut Public Interest Research Group (ConnPIRG) was the lead advocacy group working with Representative Woodcock to pass the Lemon Law in the state legislature. ConnPIRG had run a consumer rights campaign for years and heard consistently from irate car owners. Recognizing they did not have the resources to help these wronged consumers on a case by case basis, ConnPIRG staff and student leaders rallied behind Representative Woodcock’s bill, running a campaign that culminated in a capitol press conference that included handing out “LemonAid” and one consumer flying his private Cesna plane over the capitol trailing a banner reading “My '82 Chevy is one reason Conn. needs a lemon law.” The media attention from the event galvanized public support and the Lemon Law was passed with large bi-partisan majorities in both the House and Senate.
“Connecticut should be proud of its history as a national leader in consumer protection,” said ConnPIRG Director Abe Scarr, “and continue to be a national leader in creating a fair marketplace where consumers are protected from scams, ripoffs, and dangerous products, be they faulty cars, toxic toys, or risky financial products. “
To commemorate the enactment of the law, the Central Connecticut State University Center for Public Policy and Social Research hosted a 30th Anniversary Commemoration today, bringing together Representative Woodcock, Jim O’Rourke, who helped lead ConnPIRG’s advocacy efforts as a student, and Dan Brochu, one of the first consumers affected by the law, among others.
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