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Old 02-22-2021, 04:13 PM   #1
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correct legal term for design defect

So, assuming you have a trailer you bought for over thirty grand, and it has several major problem the most recent of which is obviously a design defect (which the manufacturer corrected in subsequent models) and you're ready to engage a lawyer, what term does one use?


The "lemon law" only applies for new vehicles. I'm fairly certain "new" doesn't apply, and I'm not even certain whether a trailer is a "vehicle". So I suspect I'm looking for some other term.


Anyone have any ideas? Basically, the trailer, a 2017 Basecamp 16, has several thousand dollars in damage due to a known design defect, corrected in part in the latter half of 2019 and another correction in 2021. The manufacturer knows this but refuses to make any effort to make good, share the cost or even trade in the trailer.


We were thinking of trading the 16 in for one of the new 20s, but I just read this morning a review in motortrend of the Basecamp 20X, and their review could generally be summed up as: Great layout, but terrible build quality. That's not something you want to hear about a forty-five thousand dollar trailer. Side note, has Airstream forgotten how to build trailers?


So trading up could mean trading one fiasco for a different fiasco.



I absolutely hate to do this, it's going to be a complete pain in the a$$, but I think it's time to get a lawyer involved.
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Old 02-22-2021, 04:22 PM   #2
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"Design defect" is a good term in general, and it is probably a good idea to see an attorney IMO.

The laws of the state where you bought the trailer, as interpreted by that state's courts and consumer protection agency, will probably control your decision-making, along with the attorney, about how to proceed IMO.

Did you buy the trailer from a dealer [or some other commercial seller], or from a private seller?

It will be easier to meet with the attorney if you can provide hard copy printouts of everything from the beginning including any sales contracts, repair work invoices, correspondence etc.. Be sure to know ahead of time what the attorney expects to be paid for this first meeting, and later what his or her fee structure will be like if a "contingent fee."

This paperwork should include your posts here, from the first in August 2019, and each relevant thread for context [if needed], because anything you have said here could be potential evidence, should this matter end up in front of a mediator/arbitrator, or in an actual court of law IMO.

Good luck.

Disclaimer -- The above is in my personal opinion only, and is not intended as a statement of any fact or law.
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Old 02-22-2021, 04:39 PM   #3
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A company designs something, then produces and sells it. Hopefully a company evaluates what they're making, and looks for ways to tweak it, to make it better than it was.

However, when a company does such, it doesn't incur an obligation to retrofit any updates that have been put into production into previously-sold products.

Many of us are fidgeting around w/ our own Airstreams, revamping things about them. Some things that change are palettes used, flooring styles... some things like LED light bulbs over incandescent are good upgrades to make. Maybe they change the step, or start using heavier stabilizers: doesn't mean the old step or stabilizers used was 'wrong', but they found something they liked about the new. I really like the upgraded ceiling in the newer Airstreams that has the AC ducting, but I don't expect Airstream to reroof mine into such, I'll just be happy that I actually have AC... as my wife said, it's a white noise generator....


My question is, what is it that you are thinking is a defect? What makes it a defect, instead of a design improvement?
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Old 02-22-2021, 04:51 PM   #4
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A lawyer for a 4 year old trailer with a poor design that was later improved upon?

Save your lawyer money and use it on the repair

Fix the flaw and advertise it as the improved version.
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Old 02-22-2021, 06:19 PM   #5
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Old 02-22-2021, 09:55 PM   #6
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Given the expense of lawyers and the fact that Thor likely also has a team on retainer, you might try other routes beforehand, or angle for a settlement, or, finally, organize a class action suit.

But I agree, such a process is unlikely to result in joy and will much more likely suck many dollars and days(years) from your life, with no guarantee of a satisfactory result.
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:02 PM   #7
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Thing is, Thor’s lawyers have probably already fought this case and will be easy for them.
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:17 PM   #8
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The official term in the software world, for something that appears as a design defect is "Feature."

Seriously though, you are being rather enigmatic about your problem. If you could be more specific about the Feature that is causing you heartache, maybe someone on these forums who has experienced the same could tell you what solution they found for this specific issue.

Good luck!
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Old 02-23-2021, 07:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
The official term in the software world, for something that appears as a design defect is "Feature."

Seriously though, you are being rather enigmatic about your problem. If you could be more specific about the Feature that is causing you heartache, maybe someone on these forums who has experienced the same could tell you what solution they found for this specific issue.

Good luck!
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Old 02-23-2021, 07:32 AM   #10
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My guess is that the technical term you are looking for is "a complete waste of time and money" in a lawsuit. Just sell the thing for what you can get for it and move on.
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Old 02-23-2021, 08:09 AM   #11
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Assuming this is the floor problem you mentioned in your other post, I think you would do well to use your time elsewhere than a lawsuit.

First, Airstream is liable to stick to their claim that it is a lack of maintenance issue, so you'll immediately be on the defensive trying to show that it isn't. Secondly, you are going to have to prove it was a defect and NOT a maintenance issue, which will be hard to do unless you can find AS documentation calling it a defect and/or the design change was to eliminate a defect, not improve the layout or to make maintenance easier.

In their other trailers, soft floors are also classified as maintenance failures, and I doubt that the many people who have had to repair this problem would fare well if they sued and pointed to the new composite flooring as "proof" that using plywood was a defect.

Please don't take this as defending Airstream - I think the number of problems you and others have had with your trailers is deplorable, and I'm glad your dealer has stepped up and helped you so much, even after the sale. But I really think your chances in a lawsuit are slim.

As others have said, either fix it and enjoy it once the "features" are shaken out or sell it and find something that you'll be happier with.
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Old 02-23-2021, 08:30 AM   #12
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The only people who win a law suit is the lawyers.


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Old 02-23-2021, 09:00 AM   #13
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I spent my entire 45 year legal career as a consumer protection attorney. This thread brought to mind the paint defect cases from the late 80s and early 90s. Ford, GM and Chrysler all had paint problems and hid them from the public. Seeking a shortcut around plant emission restrictions, the eliminated a step in the paint process, resulting in, over time, delamination of the clear coat from prolonged exposure to ultraviolent light, or, in common parlance, the sun. Remember seeing all those maroon, blue and silver for pickups with leprosy? Of course, unsuspecting buyers didn't know what the manufacturers had earlier come to realize - that the cars they were they and their dealers were selling were going to look like crap after a year or so in the sun. But they remained silent, in the face of a clear legal duty to disclose the problem to unsuspecting buyers. I do know we got a lot of disappointed consumers into new vehicles in those cases, especially after the conscience of a manufacturer's regional representative prompted him to blow the whistle.



Let me be clear: I'm expressing no opinion on whether the problem mentioned in this thread fits within the duty to disclosure requirement of those cases. There are a lot more facts that would need to be examined.
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Old 02-23-2021, 09:14 AM   #14
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Get a lawyer involved in a case involving a four year old, used trailer? Sounds like a complete waste of time and money, as well as a sign someone not doing their due diligence in inspecting something before they bought it. I suspect also, if you had simply contracted JC and asked about a potential solution, or a high quality local dealer, you'd be well on your way to a happy solution instead of diving deeper into the abyss.

My advice, fix your trailer at your expense, or sell it and decide whether a travel trailer is something you should own before buying another. Adjust your expectations to include the possibility that things may break, and work towards reasonable solutions.
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Old 02-23-2021, 10:07 AM   #15
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The only people who win a law suit is the lawyers.


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This^^ There are flaws, defects and poor design issues with many products. Unless it is under warranty I say save your time & money, fix it and move on.
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Old 02-23-2021, 10:19 AM   #16
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Ask the lawyer

Since you intend to speak with a lawyer, ask him/her to suggest the correct terminology. As others have counseled, bring all documentation and photos to demonstrate the issue.

The lawyer should be able to advise you of the likelihood of success and the costs to pursue this.
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Old 02-23-2021, 10:57 AM   #17
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I know nothing about Basecamps, having not been interested in them: so I went and read some of the other threads you've posted in, to learn a bit about them. For the 16' ones, the fridge at the front, leaks, floor rot, I see a lot of things making folks unhappy. Yes, I'd be frustrated too.

My suggestion is sell it, pass it along. I don't see that anything will come of banging your head against Thor.

I wish you the best w/ whatever way yo choose to go....
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Old 02-23-2021, 12:28 PM   #18
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Lemon Law and lawyers

#1 - Few, if any, state lemon laws cover RVs. That goes triple for trailers.

#2 - Even if your trailer was covered by the lemon law, your chance of getting relief is close to zero.

#3 - You will find many lawyers who will cheerfully take your case even though they know nothing about the subject. And, they will chase you everywhere and forever to get their money, even though they did nothing.

It costs a lawyer nothing to file legal action against you. As my good person/ lawyer/neighbor says, 'it's a shame that 80% of lawyers ruin it for all of us'.
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Old 02-23-2021, 01:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LNBright View Post


A company designs something, then produces and sells it. Hopefully a company evaluates what they're making, and looks for ways to tweak it, to make it better than it was.

However, when a company does such, it doesn't incur an obligation to retrofit any updates that have been put into production into previously-sold products.

Many of us are fidgeting around w/ our own Airstreams, revamping things about them. Some things that change are palettes used, flooring styles... some things like LED light bulbs over incandescent are good upgrades to make. Maybe they change the step, or start using heavier stabilizers: doesn't mean the old step or stabilizers used was 'wrong', but they found something they liked about the new. I really like the upgraded ceiling in the newer Airstreams that has the AC ducting, but I don't expect Airstream to reroof mine into such, I'll just be happy that I actually have AC... as my wife said, it's a white noise generator....


My question is, what is it that you are thinking is a defect? What makes it a defect, instead of a design improvement?
Yes, I've noticed lots of room for improvements, and have instituted some of my own. For instance, I've had standard round "cigarette lighter" jacks put near both doors, so I can plug in my laptop. (I use the trailer for work.) Other really useful upgrades are LED lights in the cupboards and lift supports for the rear storage, so you don't have to hold the door up with your forehead while you get stuff out.


But what I'm specifically talking about is the floor rotting out under the refrigerator. Partly fixed in the latter part of 2019 when they switched to an all-electric fridge, and more definitively fixed in the model 20, with the fridge on the side wall instead of the front.
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Old 02-23-2021, 02:14 PM   #20
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Used to, all-electric fridges weren't available, it's only recently that they've become an option. SO, AS has switched as they see it as an improvement. Yes, on the 20 they moved them to the side, but, they still make the 16 w/ them at the front (which seemed to be part of the problem), so, they must not think being at the front is 'that' big of a deal.

For years, the regular AS trailers had a water intrusion issue at the rear floor line, above the bumper. Eventually they started sealing them better from the outside, and have finally gone to non-wood flooring... but that's not admitting a design defect, it's working w/ the available materials and improving assembly line techniques (took long enough....).

I'm sorry your family has had a bad experience w/ it, I wish it had been rosy from the get-go. I would be frustrated too. However, I would hate to see you spend a lot of money on an attorney, to not get anywhere for it, I'm not seeing it as a case that I think would succeed. But, maybe I'm wrong, you might win... Or, maybe they settle before actually going to court, maybe swap you a new 20 for your 16, if you think that'd make you happy. Or, they just take back your 16... would that be enough? I just don't see a court as being a winning outcome. I'd be having a bigger conversation w/ JC and see what you might accomplish w/o going so far as bringing in an attorney and all of those associated costs.

Good luck, whichever way you go...
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