Earlier this week, Tesla was hit with a lawsuit in Wisconsin filed by Vince Megna, a self-proclaimed "lemon law king" who earlier this year secured the largest lemon law judgement in history -- $618,000 -- from Mercedes-Benz.
Megna's latest suit alleges, naturally, that the Tesla purchased by Megna's client -- a man named Robert Montgomery -- was a lemon that experienced a whole host of serious problems despite Tesla's efforts to address and fix the issues. The suit further claims that Tesla ignored Montgomery's inquiries regarding a buy-back.
The Tesla vehicle at issue is a Model S that Montgomery spent nearly $100,000 on. Notably, Wisconsin's lemon law lays out that Montgomery is eligible for damages at double the purchase price.
So just what was wrong with the car to begin with? Well, the suit claims that the vehicle experienced an array of serious and frustrating issues, including but not limited to malfunctioning door handles, poor battery performance, paint defects, trouble starting the car, and more.
The lawsuit quickly made headlines, in large part due to the fact that Tesla and the Model S have won innumerable awards for customer service and quality.
Also, Megna himself doesn't shy away from self promotion. To wit, check out this video he put together about the lawsuit. Be prepared, it's more than a little cringe worthy.
In the wake of the lawsuit, Tesla published a blog post earlier this week calling into question the veracity of the lawsuit itself along with the motivations of both the lawyer and the car owner. Perhaps speaking to the suit's motivations, Tesla notes that Megna filed a lemon law suit on Montgomery's behalf against Volvo just this past February.
What's more, Tesla explains that it took a number of steps to address the Model S's alleged performance deficiencies, even when Tesla's own service engineers were unable to recreate the problems Montgomery was complaining about. The most damning excerpt, however, is the circumstantial evidence provided by Tesla, which seems to imply that the owner in this case may have purposefully tinkered with the car.
Another issue was that the car's fuse blew on numerous occasions. Each time, our engineers explored all possible explanations and were never able to find anything wrong with the car. Still, just to be sure, we replaced several parts that could have been related to the alleged problem – all at no expense to the customer. When the fuse kept blowing despite the new parts, and faced with no diagnosis showing anything wrong with the car, the engineers were moved to consider the possibility that the fuse had been tampered with. After investigating, they determined that the car's front trunk had been opened immediately before the fuse failure on each of these occasions. (The fuse is accessed through the front trunk.) Ultimately, Tesla service applied non-tamper tape to the fuse switch. From that point on, the fuse performed flawlessly.
For what it's worth, Megna denies that the Model S in question was tampered with in any way.
It's all a bit shady, and while we'll have to wait and see how this all plays out, it's hard not to look at each side's position and not come away thinking that the lawsuit is rather frivolous on its face. Nonetheless, Tesla notes that it remains committed to addressing Montgomery's concerns with his Model S.
Tesla's blog post concludes:
We are continuing our efforts to work with the customer and are happy to address any legitimate concerns he has about his Model S. Customer service remains of utmost importance to Tesla, and no Model S owner should be unhappy with their car. However, we would also like the public to be aware of the potential for lemon laws to be exploited by opportunistic lawyers.