New York’s lemon law lacks the firepower that local firefighters need to address concerns about a $1 million ladder truck.
The East Fishkill Fire District sued Ferrara Fire Apparatus Inc. on Jan. 22 in White Plains federal court, citing a Louisiana law that holds that a buyer would not have purchased something had they known it was useless.
“The defects related to the truck’s bucket and ladder have rendered the truck absolutely useless” the lawsuit states, “for its intended purpose of being used in rescue operations.”
Ferrara, based in Holden, Louisiana, did not respond to an email message asking for its side of the story.
East Fishkill agreed in 2013 to buy a Ferrara rear mounted, platform ladder truck for $1,002,351. It was delivered in January 2015.
By March 2015, according to the lawsuit, the avoidance system for the truck’s bucket malfunctioned.
The complaint lists another 27 glitches over five years, with the check engine light, avoidance system, intake manifold, exhaust system, switches, lights, corroded wires, air intake pipe, leaks, loose screws and bolts, a “mansaver” bar and the generator.
The ladder and bucket were continual concerns. The joystick allegedly would not move the bucket properly. Lights on the bucket didn’t work. After new software was installed, the ladder would not retract. At one point, the bucket listed “dangerously” to one side when the joystick was malfunctioning.
On another occasion, the complaint states an emergency override had to be used to lower the bucket. This past August, while the truck was out of service, the bucket allegedly dropped.
Ferrara technicians came to Hopewell Junction at least 13 times, according to the complaint’s litany of defects, and the company serviced the truck at its own facilities at least twice.
Over the five-year period, the lawsuit states, the ladder truck was out of service for about a year.
New York’s lemon law, to be clear, is a consumer protection law that applies to cars. East Fishkill is suing under Louisiana’s “redhibitory defects” law that grants buyers a warranty against defects that are so bad, according to the complaint, “that the thing sold is absolutely useless for its intended purposes” or that the customer would not have bought it “had the purchaser known of the defect.”
Ferrara informed the fire district last July that the defects could not be cured, according to the lawsuit.
The fire district asserts that Ferrara must return the full purchase price, plus interest, under Louisiana law. It also accuses the company of breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
East Fishkill is represented by Poughkeepsie attorney David R. Wise.