Informal Dispute Resolution

The Lemon Law in Ohio (and many other state's lemon laws) provide that before filing a lawsuit in court, you must first go through the manufacturer's IDR (Informal Dispute Resolution) process if they have one. In Ohio, that process must be qualified by the Ohio Attorney General's office in order for it to be mandatory. Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Saturn, Volkswagen, Audi, Toyota, Lexus, Porsche and Workhorse Chassis all have qualified IDR programs in Ohio. Most use a program that is administered by the Better Business Bureau, known as Auto Line.

While an attorney is not required, you should not try to navigate the IDR process on your own. The arbitrator who decides your case at the IDR level has the power to award the same relief as a judge or jury, so this is a significant step in the overall process. However, these IDR programs are fully funded by the manufacturers and the arbitrators are not bound by the strict accords of the lemon law in the state of Ohio. Fortunately, if you are unhappy with the arbitrator's award or it does not go in your favor, you are free to pursue your case in court. On the other hand, if you are happy with the award, the manufacturer is bound to accept it. Federal law requires that the IDR process be completed in no more than 40 days.

Informal dispute resolution can be done in writing and/or at a formal oral hearing. The manufacturer will have the opportunity to submit a written position setting forth its reasoning as to why the vehicle does not qualify as a lemon. A copy will be provided to the consumer. If a formal hearing takes place, the manufacturer often participates by telephone and/or has dealer personnel attend on its behalf. The BBB Auto Line program requires that the consumer present the vehicle for an inspection and test drive with the arbitrator who will decide the case, regardless of whether a formal hearing is requested.


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