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Title XXXIX, Chapter 681
Sunday, December 4, 2016

681.10 Short title.-- This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act."

History.--s. 1, ch. 83-69; s. 1, ch. 85-240; s. 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429.

681.101 Legislative intent.-- The Legislature recognizes that a motor vehicle is a major consumer purchase and that a defective motor vehicle undoubtedly creates a hardship for the consumer. The Legislature further recognizes that a duly franchised motor vehicle dealer is an authorized service agent of the manufacturer. It is the intent of the Legislature that a good faith motor vehicle warranty complaint by a consumer be resolved by the manufacturer within a specified period of time; however, it is not the intent of the Legislature that a consumer establish the presumption of a reasonable number of attempts as to each manufacturer that provides a warranty directly to the consumer. It is further the intent of the Legislature to provide the statutory procedures whereby a consumer may receive a replacement motor vehicle, or a full refund, for a motor vehicle which cannot be brought into conformity with the warranty provided for in this chapter. However, nothing in this chapter shall in any way limit or expand the rights or remedies which are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.

History.--s. 2, ch. 83-69; s. 1, ch. 84-55; ss. 1, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 1, ch. 97-245.

681.102 Definitions.-- As used in this chapter, the term:

(1) "Authorized service agent" means any person, including a franchised motor vehicle dealer, who is authorized by the manufacturer to service motor vehicles. In the case of a recreational vehicle when there are two or more manufacturers, an authorized service agent for any individual manufacturer is any person, including a franchised motor vehicle dealer, who is authorized to service the items warranted by that manufacturer. The term does not include a rental car company authorized to repair rental vehicles.

(2) "Board" means the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board.

(3) "Collateral charges" means those additional charges to a consumer wholly incurred as a result of the acquisition of the motor vehicle. For the purposes of this chapter, collateral charges include, but are not limited to, manufacturer-installed or agent-installed items or service charges, earned finance charges, sales taxes, and title charges.

(4) "Consumer" means the purchaser, other than for purposes of resale, or the lessee, of a motor vehicle primarily used for personal, family, or household purposes; any person to whom such motor vehicle is transferred for the same purposes during the duration of the Lemon Law rights period; and any other person entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty.

(5) "Days" means calendar days.

(6) "Department" means the Department of Legal Affairs.

(7) "Incidental charges" means those reasonable costs to the consumer which are directly caused by the nonconformity of the motor vehicle.

(8) "Lease price" means the aggregate of the capitalized cost, as defined in s. 521.003(2), and each of the following items to the extent not included in the capitalized cost:

(9) "Lemon Law rights period" means the period ending 24 months after the date of the original delivery of a motor vehicle to a consumer.

(10) "Lessee" means any consumer who leases a motor vehicle for 1 year or more pursuant to a written lease agreement which provides that the lessee is responsible for repairs to such motor vehicle or any consumer who leases a motor vehicle pursuant to a lease-purchase agreement.

(11) "Lessee cost" means the aggregate deposit and rental payments previously paid to the lessor for the leased vehicle but excludes debt from any other transaction.

(12) "Lessor" means a person who holds title to a motor vehicle that is leased to a lessee under a written lease agreement or who holds the lessor's rights under such agreement.

(13) "Manufacturer" means any person, whether a resident or nonresident of this state, who manufactures or assembles motor vehicles, or who manufactures or assembles chassis for recreational vehicles, or who manufactures or installs on previously assembled truck or recreational vehicle chassis special bodies or equipment which, when installed, forms an integral part of the motor vehicle, a distributor as defined in s. 320.60(5), or an importer as defined in s. 320.60(7). A dealer as defined in s. 320.60(11)(a) shall not be deemed to be a manufacturer, distributor, or importer as provided in this section.

(14) "Motor vehicle" means a new vehicle, propelled by power other than muscular power, which is sold in this state to transport persons or property, and includes a recreational vehicle or a vehicle used as a demonstrator or leased vehicle if a manufacturer’s warranty was issued as a condition of sale, or the lessee is responsible for repairs, but does not include vehicles run only upon tracks, off-road vehicles, trucks over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, motorcycles, mopeds, or the living facilities of recreational vehicles. "Living facilities of recreational vehicles" are those portions designed, used, or maintained primarily as living quarters and include, but are not limited to, the flooring, plumbing system and fixtures, roof air conditioner, furnace, generator, electrical systems other than automotive circuits, the side entrance door, exterior compartments, and windows other than the windshield and driver and front passenger windows.

(15) "Nonconformity" means a defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a motor vehicle, but does not include a defect or condition that results from an accident, abuse, neglect, modification, or alteration of the motor vehicle by persons other than the manufacturer or its authorized service agent.

(16) "Procedure" means an informal dispute-settlement procedure established by a manufacturer to mediate and arbitrate motor vehicle warranty disputes.

(17) "Program" means the mediation and arbitration pilot program for recreational vehicles established in this chapter.

(18) "Purchase price" means the cash price as defined in s. 520.31(2), inclusive of any allowance for a trade-in vehicle, but excludes debt from any other transaction. "Any allowance for a trade-in vehicle" means the net trade-in allowance as reflected in the purchase contract or lease agreement if acceptable to the consumer and manufacturer. If such amount is not acceptable to the consumer and manufacturer, then the trade-in allowance shall be an amount equal to 100 percent of the retail price of the trade-in vehicle as reflected in the NADA Official Used Car Guide (Southeastern Edition) or NADA Recreation Vehicle Appraisal Guide, whichever is applicable, in effect at the time of the trade-in. The manufacturer shall be responsible for providing the applicable NADA book.

(19) "Reasonable offset for use" means the number of miles attributable to a consumer up to the date of a settlement agreement or arbitration hearing, whichever occurs first, multiplied by the purchase price of the vehicle and divided by 120,000, except in the case of a recreational vehicle, in which event it shall be divided by 60,000.

(20) "Recreational vehicle" means a motor vehicle primarily designed to provide temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, or travel use, but does not include a van conversion.

(21) "Replacement motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle which is identical or reasonably equivalent to the motor vehicle to be replaced, as the motor vehicle to be replaced existed at the time of acquisition. "Reasonably equivalent to the motor vehicle to be replaced" means the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the replacement vehicle shall not exceed 105 percent of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the motor vehicle to be replaced. In the case of a recreational vehicle, "reasonably equivalent to the motor vehicle to be replaced" means the retail price of the replacement vehicle shall not exceed 105 percent of the purchase price of the recreational vehicle to be replaced.

(22) "Warranty" means any written warranty issued by the manufacturer, or any affirmation of fact or promise made by the manufacturer, excluding statements made by the dealer, in connection with the sale of a motor vehicle to a consumer which relates to the nature of the material or workmanship and affirms or promises that such material or workmanship is free of defects or will meet a specified level of performance.

History.--s. 3, ch. 83-69; s. 2, ch. 84-55; s. 2, ch. 85-240; s. 1, ch. 86-229; ss. 2, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 2, ch. 92-88; s. 2, ch. 97-245; s. 2, ch. 98-128; s. 21, ch. 99-164; s. 17, ch. 2011-56; s. 27, ch. 2011-205.

681.103 Duty of manufacturer to conform a motor vehicle to the warranty.--

(1) If a motor vehicle does not conform to the warranty and the consumer first reports the problem to the manufacturer or its authorized service agent during the Lemon Law rights period, the manufacturer or its authorized service agent shall make such repairs as are necessary to conform the vehicle to the warranty, irrespective of whether such repairs are made after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period. Such repairs shall be at no cost to the consumer if made during the term of the manufacturer’s written express warranty. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to grant an extension of the Lemon Law rights period or to expand the time within which a consumer must file a claim under this chapter.

(2) Each manufacturer shall provide to its consumers conspicuous notice of the address and phone number for its zone, district, or regional office for this state in the written warranty or owner’s manual. By January 1 of each year, each manufacturer shall forward to the department a copy of the owner’s manual and any written warranty for each make and model of motor vehicle that it sells in this state.

(3) At the time of acquisition, the manufacturer shall inform the consumer clearly and conspicuously in writing how and where to file a claim with a certified procedure if such procedure has been established by the manufacturer pursuant to s. 681.108. The nameplate manufacturer of a recreational vehicle shall, at the time of vehicle acquisition, inform the consumer clearly and conspicuously in writing how and where to file a claim with a program pursuant to s. 681.1096. The manufacturer shall provide to the dealer and, at the time of acquisition, the dealer shall provide to the consumer a written statement that explains the consumer’s rights under this chapter. The written statement shall be prepared by the department and shall contain a toll-free number for the department which the consumer can contact to obtain information regarding the consumer’s rights and obligations under this chapter or to commence arbitration. If the manufacturer obtains a signed receipt for timely delivery of sufficient quantities of this written statement to meet the dealer’s vehicle sales requirements, it shall constitute prima facie evidence of compliance with this subsection by the manufacturer. The consumer’s signed acknowledgment of receipt of materials required under this subsection shall constitute prima facie evidence of compliance by the manufacturer and dealer. The form of the acknowledgments shall be approved by the department, and the dealer shall maintain the consumer’s signed acknowledgment for 3 years.

(4) A manufacturer, through its authorized service agent, shall provide to the consumer, each time the consumer’s motor vehicle is returned after being examined or repaired under the warranty, a fully itemized, legible statement or repair order indicating any test drive performed and the approximate length of the test drive, any diagnosis made, and all work performed on the motor vehicle including, but not limited to, a general description of the problem reported by the consumer or an identification of the defect or condition, parts and labor, the date and the odometer reading when the motor vehicle was submitted for examination or repair, and the date when the repair or examination was completed.

History.--s. 4, ch. 83-69; s. 40, ch. 85-62; s. 3, ch. 85-240; ss. 3, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 3, ch. 92-88; s. 3, ch. 97-245; s. 1, ch. 2002-71; s. 20, ch. 2002-235; s. 18, ch. 2011-56; s. 28, ch. 2011-205.

681.104 Nonconformity of motor vehicles.--

(1)

(2)

(3) It is presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform a motor vehicle to the warranty if, during the Lemon Law rights period, either:

(4) It is an affirmative defense to any claim under this chapter that:

Any other affirmative defense allowed by law may be raised against the claim.

History.--s. 5, ch. 83-69; s. 3, ch. 84-55; s. 41, ch. 85-62; s. 4, ch. 85-240; s. 2, ch. 86-229; ss. 4, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 4, ch. 92-88; s. 4, ch. 97-245.

681.106 Bad faith claims.-- Any claim by a consumer which is found by the court to have been filed in bad faith or solely for the purpose of harassment, or in complete absence of a justiciable issue of either law or fact raised by the consumer, shall result in the consumer being liable for all costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the manufacturer, or its agent, as a direct result of the bad faith claim.

History.--s. 6, ch. 83-69; s. 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429.

681.108 Dispute-settlement procedures.--

(1) If a manufacturer has established a procedure that the department has certified as substantially complying with the provisions of 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983, and with the provisions of this chapter and the rules adopted under this chapter, and has informed the consumer how and where to file a claim with such procedure pursuant to s. 681.103(3), the provisions of s. 681.104(2) apply to the consumer only if the consumer has first resorted to such procedure. The decisionmakers for a certified procedure shall, in rendering decisions, take into account all legal and equitable factors germane to a fair and just decision, including, but not limited to, the warranty; the rights and remedies conferred under 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983; the provisions of this chapter; and any other equitable considerations appropriate under the circumstances. Decisionmakers and staff 1for a procedure shall be trained in the provisions of this chapter and in 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983. In an action brought by a consumer concerning an alleged nonconformity, the decision that results from a certified procedure is admissible in evidence.

(2) A manufacturer may apply to the department for certification of its procedure. After receipt and evaluation of the application, the department shall certify the procedure or notify the manufacturer of any deficiencies in the application or the procedure.

(3) A certified procedure or a procedure of an applicant seeking certification shall submit to the department a copy of each settlement approved by the procedure or decision made by a decisionmaker within 30 days after the settlement is reached or the decision is rendered. The decision or settlement must contain at a minimum the:

(4) Any manufacturer establishing or applying to establish a certified procedure must file with the department a copy of the annual audit required under the provisions of 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983, together with any additional information required for purposes of certification, including the number of refunds and replacements made in this state pursuant to the provisions of this chapter by the manufacturer during the period audited.

(5) The department shall review each certified procedure at least annually, prepare an annual report evaluating the operation of certified procedures established by motor vehicle manufacturers and procedures of applicants seeking certification, and, for a period not to exceed 1 year, shall grant certification to, or renew certification for, those manufacturers whose procedures substantially comply with the provisions of 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983, and with the provisions of this chapter and rules adopted under this chapter. If certification is revoked or denied, the department shall state the reasons for such action. The reports and records of actions taken with respect to certification shall be public records.

(6) A manufacturer whose certification is denied or revoked is entitled to a hearing pursuant to chapter 120.

(7) If federal preemption of state authority to regulate procedures occurs, the provisions of subsection (1) concerning prior resort do not apply.

(8) The department may adopt rules to administer this section.

History.--s. 7, ch. 83-69; s. 4, ch. 84-55; s. 5, ch. 85-240; ss. 5, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 17, ch. 91-110; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 5, ch. 92-88; s. 19, ch. 2011-56; s. 29, ch. 2011-205.

681.109 Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board; dispute eligibility.--

(1) If a manufacturer has a certified procedure, a consumer claim arising during the Lemon Law rights period must be filed with the certified procedure no later than 60 days after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period. If a decision is not rendered by the certified procedure within 40 days after filing, the consumer may apply to the department to have the dispute removed to the board for arbitration.

(2) If a manufacturer has a certified procedure, a consumer claim arising during the Lemon Law rights period must be filed with the certified procedure no later than 60 days after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period. If a consumer is not satisfied with the decision or the manufacturer’s compliance therewith, the consumer may apply to the department to have the dispute submitted to the board for arbitration. A manufacturer may not seek review of a decision made under its procedure.

(3) If a manufacturer does not have a certified procedure or if the certified procedure does not have jurisdiction to resolve the dispute, a consumer may apply directly to the department to have the dispute submitted to the board for arbitration.

(4) A consumer must request arbitration before the board with respect to a claim arising during the Lemon Law rights period no later than 60 days after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period, or within 30 days after the final action of a certified procedure, whichever date occurs later.

(5) The department shall screen all requests for arbitration before the board to determine eligibility. The consumer’s request for arbitration before the board shall be made on a form prescribed by the department. The department shall forward to the board all disputes that the department determines are potentially entitled to relief under this chapter.

(6) The department may reject a dispute that it determines to be fraudulent or outside the scope of the board’s authority. Any dispute deemed by the department to be ineligible for arbitration by the board due to insufficient evidence may be reconsidered upon the submission of new information regarding the dispute. The department after a second review, may reject a dispute if the evidence is clearly insufficient to qualify for relief. 1If a dispute is rejected by the department, the department shall send by registered mail to the consumer and the manufacturer a brief explanation as to the reason for rejection.

(7) If the department rejects a dispute, the consumer may file a lawsuit to enforce the remedies provided under this chapter. In any civil action arising under this chapter and relating to a matter considered by the department, any determination made to reject a dispute is admissible in evidence.

(8) The department may adopt rules to administer this section.

History.--ss. 6, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 6, ch. 92-88; s. 5, ch. 97-245; s. 20, ch. 2011-56; s. 30, ch. 2011-205.

681.1095 Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board; creation and function.--

(1) There is established within the department, the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, consisting of members appointed by the Attorney General for an initial term of 1 year. Board members may be reappointed for additional terms of 2 years. Each board member is accountable to the Attorney General for the performance of the member’s duties and is exempt from civil liability for any act or omission that occurs while acting in the member’s official capacity. The department shall defend a member in any action against the member or the board which arises from any such act or omission. The Attorney General may establish as many regions of the board as necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.

(2) The board shall hear cases in various locations throughout the state so that any consumer whose dispute is approved for arbitration by the department may attend an arbitration hearing at a reasonably convenient location and present a dispute orally. Hearings shall be conducted by panels of three board members assigned by the department. A majority vote of the three-member board panel shall be required to render a decision. Arbitration proceedings under this section shall be open to the public on reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms.

(3) Each region of the board shall consist of up to eight members. The members of the board shall construe and apply the provisions of this chapter, and rules adopted thereunder, in making their decisions. An administrator and a secretary shall be assigned to each region of the board by the department. At least one member of the board in each region must have expertise in motor vehicle mechanics. A member may not be employed by a manufacturer or a franchised motor vehicle dealer or be a staff member, a decisionmaker, or a consultant for a procedure. Board members shall be trained in the application of this chapter and any rules adopted under this chapter. Members of the board shall be compensated at a rate prescribed by the Attorney General and are entitled to reimbursement for per diem and travel expenses pursuant to s. 112.061.

(4) Before filing a civil action on a matter subject to s. 681.104, the consumer must first submit the dispute to the department, and to the board if such dispute is deemed eligible for arbitration.

(5) Manufacturers shall submit to arbitration conducted by the board if such arbitration is requested by a consumer and the dispute is deemed eligible for arbitration by the department pursuant to s. 681.109.

(6) The board shall hear the dispute within 40 days and render a decision within 60 days after the date the request for arbitration is approved. The board may continue the hearing on its own motion or upon the request of a party for good cause shown. A request for continuance by the consumer constitutes waiver of the time periods set forth in this subsection. The department, at the board’s request, may investigate disputes, and may issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and for the production of records, documents, and other evidence before the board. The failure of the board to hear a dispute or render a decision within the prescribed periods does not invalidate the decision.

(7) At all arbitration proceedings, the parties may present oral and written testimony, present witnesses and evidence relevant to the dispute, cross-examine witnesses, and be represented by counsel. The board may administer oaths or affirmations to witnesses and inspect the vehicle if requested by a party or if the board deems such inspection appropriate.

(8) The board shall grant relief, if a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to correct a nonconformity or nonconformities.

(9) The decision of the board shall be sent by any method providing a delivery confirmation to the consumer and the manufacturer, and shall contain written findings of fact and rationale for the decision. If the decision is in favor of the consumer, the manufacturer must, within 40 days after receipt of the decision, comply with the terms of the decision. Compliance occurs on the date the consumer receives delivery of an acceptable replacement motor vehicle or the refund specified in the arbitration award. In any civil action arising under this chapter and relating to a dispute arbitrated before the board, any decision by the board is admissible in evidence.

(10) A decision is final unless appealed by either party. A petition to the circuit court to appeal a decision must be made within 30 days after receipt of the decision. The petition shall be filed in the county where the consumer resides, or where the motor vehicle was acquired, or where the arbitration hearing was conducted. Within 7 days after the petition has been filed, the appealing party must send a copy of the petition to the department. If the department does not receive notice of such petition within 40 days after the manufacturer’s receipt of a decision in favor of the consumer, and the manufacturer has neither complied with, nor has petitioned to appeal such decision, the department may apply to the circuit court to seek imposition of a fine up to $1,000 per day against the manufacturer until the amount stands at twice the purchase price of the motor vehicle, unless the manufacturer provides clear and convincing evidence that the delay or failure was beyond its control or was acceptable to the consumer as evidenced by a written statement signed by the consumer. If the manufacturer fails to provide such evidence or fails to pay the fine, the department shall initiate proceedings against the manufacturer for failure to pay such fine. The proceeds from the fine herein imposed shall be placed in the Motor Vehicle Warranty Trust Fund in the department for implementation and enforcement of this chapter. If the manufacturer fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection, the court shall affirm the award upon application by the consumer.

(11) This section and s. 681.109 pertaining to compulsory arbitration before the board, the dispute eligibility screening by the department, the proceedings and decisions of the board, and any appeals thereof, are exempt from chapter 120.

(12) An appeal of a decision by the board to the circuit court by a consumer or a manufacturer shall be by trial de novo. In a written petition to appeal a decision by the board, the appealing party must state the action requested and the grounds relied upon for appeal. Within 15 days after final disposition of the appeal, the appealing party shall furnish the department with a copy of the settlement or the order or judgment of the court.

(13) If a decision of the board in favor of the consumer is upheld by the court, recovery by the consumer shall include the pecuniary value of the award, attorney’s fees incurred in obtaining confirmation of the award, and all costs and continuing damages in the amount of $25 per day for each day beyond the 40-day period following the manufacturer’s receipt of the board’s decision. If a court determines that the manufacturer acted in bad faith in bringing the appeal or brought the appeal solely for the purpose of harassment or in complete absence of a justiciable issue of law or fact, the court shall double, and may triple, the amount of the total award.

(14) When a judgment affirms a decision by the board in favor of a consumer, appellate review may be conditioned upon payment by the manufacturer of the consumer’s attorney’s fees and giving security for costs and expenses resulting from the review period.

(15) The department shall maintain records of each dispute submitted to the board, and the program, including an index of motor vehicles by year, make, and model, and shall compile aggregate annual statistics for all disputes submitted to, and decided by, the board, as well as annual statistics for each manufacturer that include, but are not limited to, the value, if applicable, and the number and percent of:

The statistics compiled under this subsection are public information.

(16) When requested by the department, a manufacturer must verify the settlement terms for disputes that are approved for arbitration but are not decided by the board.

(17) The department may adopt rules to administer this section.

History.--ss. 7, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 18, ch. 91-110; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 7, ch. 92-88; s. 55, ch. 95-211; s. 6, ch. 97-245; s. 21, ch. 2011-56; s. 31, ch. 2011-205.

681.1096 Pilot RV Mediation and Arbitration Program; creation and qualifications.--

(1) This section and s. 681.1097 shall apply to disputes determined eligible under this chapter involving recreational vehicles acquired on or after October 1, 1997.

(2) Each manufacturer of a recreational vehicle involved in a dispute that is determined eligible under this chapter, including chassis and component manufacturers that separately warrant the chassis and components and that otherwise meet the definition of manufacturer set forth in s. 681.102(13), shall participate in a mediation and arbitration program that is deemed qualified by the department.

(3) In order to be deemed qualified by the department, the mediation and arbitration program must, at a minimum, meet the following requirements:

(4) The department shall monitor the program for compliance with this chapter. If the program is determined not qualified or if qualification is revoked, then disputes shall be subject to the provisions of ss. 681.109 and 681.1095. If the program is determined not qualified or if qualification is revoked as to a manufacturer, all those manufacturers potentially involved in the eligible consumer dispute shall be required to submit to arbitration conducted by the board if such arbitration is requested by a consumer and the dispute is deemed eligible for arbitration by the department pursuant to s. 681.109. A consumer having a dispute involving one or more manufacturers for which the program has been determined not qualified, or for which qualification has been revoked, is not required to submit the dispute to the program irrespective of whether the program may be qualified as to some of the manufacturers potentially involved in the dispute.

(5) A program failing to meet the requirements of this section, s. 681.1097, and the rules adopted thereunder by the department may not be qualified by the department. The department may revoke the qualification of a program for failure to maintain compliance with the requirements of this section, s. 681.1097, and the rules adopted thereunder by the department. The department may revoke the qualification of a program as to one or more participating manufacturers for conduct to be specified by the department by rule pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54.

(6) If a program is determined not qualified or if qualification is revoked, or if program qualification is revoked as to a particular manufacturer, the program administrator and the involved manufacturer, if any, shall be notified by the department of any deficiencies in the program or, in the case of a manufacturer, notified of the manufacturer’s conduct in violation of this chapter or the rules adopted thereunder by the department, shall be given an opportunity to correct such deficiencies, except as set forth by the department by rule, and shall be informed that it is entitled to a hearing pursuant to chapter 120.

(7) The program administrator, mediators, and arbitrators are exempt from civil liability arising from any act or omission in connection with any mediation or arbitration conducted under this chapter.

(8) The program administrator shall maintain records of each dispute submitted to the program, including the recordings of arbitration hearings. Such records shall be maintained in a manner separate from other unrelated records of the program. All records maintained by the program under this chapter shall be public records and shall be available for inspection by the department upon reasonable notice. The program shall retain all records for each dispute for at least 5 years after the final disposition of the dispute. The program shall furnish the department with copies of all settlement agreements and decisions within 30 days after the date of such settlements and decisions.

(9) The program shall provide the department with quarterly and annual reports containing such information as the department shall by rule prescribe.

(10) The department shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement the provisions of this section.

History.--s. 7, ch. 97-245; s. 33, ch. 2001-196; s. 2, ch. 2002-71; s. 21, ch. 2002-235; s. 2, ch. 2005-141; s. 22, ch. 2011-56; s. 32, ch. 2011-205.

681.1097 Pilot RV Mediation and Arbitration Program; dispute eligibility and program function.--

(1) Before filing a civil action on a matter subject to s. 681.104, a consumer who acquires a recreational vehicle must first submit the dispute to the program if the dispute is deemed eligible. Such consumer is not required to resort to a procedure certified pursuant to s. 681.108, notwithstanding that one of the manufacturers of the recreational vehicle has such a procedure. Such consumer is not required to resort to arbitration conducted by the board, except as provided in s. 681.1096(4) and in this section.

(2) A consumer acquiring a recreational vehicle must apply to participate in this program with respect to a claim arising during the Lemon Law rights period by filing the application in subsection (3) with the program no later than 60 days after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period. The claim is considered filed when the application is date-stamped as received by the program.

(3) The consumer’s application for participation in the program must be on a form prescribed by the program. The program administrator shall screen all applications to participate in the program to determine eligibility.

(4) Mediation shall be mandatory for both the consumer and manufacturer, unless the dispute is settled prior to the scheduled mediation conference. The mediation conference shall be confidential and inadmissible in any subsequent adversarial proceedings. Participation shall be limited to the parties directly involved in the dispute and their attorneys, if any. All manufacturers shall be represented by persons with settlement authority. The parties may, by agreement, consent to expand the scope of a mediation conference to attempt to resolve warranty claims by the consumer which may not be covered under this chapter, if such claims were reported by the consumer to the manufacturer or its authorized service agent during the term of the manufacturer’s express warranty.

(5) Arbitration proceedings shall be open to the public on reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms.

(6) Except as otherwise provided, all provisions in this section pertaining to mandatory mediation and arbitration, eligibility screening, mediation proceedings, arbitration hearings and decisions, and any appeals thereof are exempt from the provisions of chapter 120.

(7) A decision of the arbitrator is binding unless appealed by either party by filing a petition with the circuit court within the time and in the manner prescribed by s. 681.1095(10) and (12). Section 681.1095(13) and (14) apply to appeals filed under this section. If a decision of a program arbitrator in favor of a consumer is confirmed by the court, recovery by the consumer shall include the pecuniary value of the award, attorney’s fees incurred in obtaining confirmation of the award, and all costs and continuing damages in the amount of $25 per day for each day beyond the 40-day period following a manufacturer’s receipt of the arbitrator’s decision. If a court determines the manufacturer acted in bad faith in bringing the appeal or brought the appeal solely for the purpose of harassment, or in complete absence of a justiciable issue of law or fact, the court shall double, and may triple, the amount of the total award.

(8) In any civil action arising under this chapter relating to a dispute arbitrated pursuant to this section, the decision of the arbitrator is admissible in evidence.

(9) The department shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement the provisions of this section.

History.--s. 8, ch. 97-245; s. 34, ch. 2001-196; s. 3, ch. 2002-71; s. 22, ch. 2002-235; s. 3, ch. 2005-141.

681.110 Compliance and disciplinary actions.--

The department may enforce and ensure compliance with the provisions of this chapter and rules adopted thereunder, may issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of witnesses and production of evidence, and may seek relief in the circuit court to compel compliance with such subpoenas. The department may impose a civil penalty against a manufacturer not to exceed $1,000 for each count or separate offense. The proceeds from the fine imposed herein shall be placed in the Motor Vehicle Warranty Trust Fund in the department for implementation and enforcement of this chapter.

History.--s. 6, ch. 85-240; ss. 8, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 23, ch. 2011-56.

681.111 Unfair or deceptive trade practice.--

A violation by a manufacturer of this chapter is an unfair or deceptive trade practice as defined in part II of chapter 501.

History.--s. 7, ch. 85-240; ss. 9, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429.

681.112 Consumer remedies.--

(1) A consumer may file an action to recover damages caused by a violation of this chapter. The court shall award a consumer who prevails in such action the amount of any pecuniary loss, litigation costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, and appropriate equitable relief.

(2) An action brought under this chapter must be commenced within 1 year after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period, or, if a consumer resorts to an informal dispute-settlement procedure or submits a dispute to the department or board, within 1 year after the final action of the procedure, department, or board.

(3) This chapter does not prohibit a consumer from pursuing other rights or remedies under any other law.

History.--ss. 10, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 24, ch. 2011-56; s. 33, ch. 2011-205.

681.113 Dealer liability.-- Except as provided in ss. 681.103(3) and 681.114(2), nothing in this chapter imposes any liability on a dealer as defined in s. 320.60(11)(a) or creates a cause of action by a consumer against a dealer, except for written express warranties made by the dealer apart from the manufacturer’s warranties. A dealer may not be made a party defendant in any action involving or relating to this chapter, except as provided in this section. The manufacturer shall not charge back or require reimbursement by the dealer for any costs, including, but not limited to, any refunds or vehicle replacements, incurred by the manufacturer arising out of this chapter, in the absence of evidence that the related repairs had been carried out by the dealer in a manner substantially inconsistent with the manufacturer’s published instructions.

History.--ss. 11, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 9, ch. 97-245.

681.114 Resale of returned vehicles.--

(1) A manufacturer who accepts the return of a motor vehicle by reason of a settlement, determination, or decision pursuant to this chapter shall notify the department and report the vehicle identification number of that motor vehicle within 10 days after such acceptance, transfer, or disposal of the vehicle, whichever occurs later.

(2) A person shall not knowingly lease, sell at wholesale or retail, or transfer a title to a motor vehicle returned by reason of a settlement, determination, or decision pursuant to this chapter or similar statute of another state unless the nature of the nonconformity is clearly and conspicuously disclosed to the prospective transferee, lessee, or buyer, and the manufacturer warrants to correct such nonconformity for a term of 1 year or 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first. The department shall prescribe by rule the form, content, and procedure pertaining to such disclosure statement.

(3) As used in this section, the term "settlement" means an agreement entered into between a manufacturer and consumer that occurs after a dispute is submitted to a procedure or program or is approved for arbitration before the board.

History.--ss. 12, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 8, ch. 92-88; s. 10, ch. 97-245; s. 25, ch. 2011-56.

681.115 Certain agreements void.-- Any agreement entered into by a consumer that waives, limits, or disclaims the rights set forth in this chapter, or that requires a consumer not to disclose the terms of such agreement as a condition thereof, is void as contrary to public policy. The rights set forth in this chapter shall extend to a subsequent transferee of such motor vehicle.

History.--ss. 13, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 9, ch. 92-88; s. 35, ch. 2001-196.

681.116 Preemption.--This chapter preempts any similar county or municipal ordinance regarding consumer warranty rights resulting from the acquisition of a motor vehicle in this state.

History.--ss. 14, 19, ch. 88-95; s. 4, ch. 91-429.

681.117 Fee.--

(1) A $2 fee shall be collected by a motor vehicle dealer, or by a person engaged in the business of leasing motor vehicles, from the consumer at the consummation of the sale of a motor vehicle or at the time of entry into a lease agreement for a motor vehicle. Such fees shall be remitted to the county tax collector or private tag agency acting as agent for the Department of Revenue. If the purchaser or lessee removes the motor vehicle from the state for titling and registration outside this state, the fee shall be remitted to the Department of Revenue. All fees, less the cost of administration, shall be transferred monthly to the department for deposit into the Motor Vehicle Warranty Trust Fund.

(2) The Department of Revenue shall administer, collect, and enforce the fee authorized under this section pursuant to the provisions of chapter 212. The fee shall not be included in the computation of estimated taxes pursuant to s. 212.11(1)(a), nor shall the dealer’s credit provided under s. 212.12 apply to the fee. The provisions of chapter 212 regarding the authority to audit and make assessments, the keeping of books and records, and interest and penalties on delinquent fees apply to the fee imposed by this section.

History.--s. 16, ch. 88-95; s. 22, ch. 90-203; s. 14, ch. 97-99; s. 54, ch. 2002-218; s. 26, ch. 2011-56; s. 34, ch. 2011-205.

681.118 Rulemaking authority.-- The department shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement the provisions of this chapter.

History.--s. 15, ch. 88-95; s. 219, ch. 98-200; s. 27, ch. 2011-56.