A Boat Owner's Bill Turns Into A Lemon

February 27, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

State legislators have deep-sixed a proposed boat lemon law.

The House Economic Matters Committee voted, 20-0, Saturday against the bill introduced by Delegate Marsha G. Perry, D-Crofton. The bill would have required manufacturers to replace chronically flawed boats or refund their owners.

"The committee just didn't hear enough support for the bill," said committee member Charles W. "Stokes" Kolodziejski, D-Carvel Beach. "It seemed like there was only one person involved."

Perry introduced the bill at the request of Crownsville resident Mickey O'Malley, president of Marylanders for a Boat Lemon Law.

At a hearing two weeks ago, O'Malley said he discovered 32 manufacturing flaws in the $68,000 cabin cruiser he purchased in 1987. After the manufacturer failed to repair the boat, O'Malley sued. His case is pending.

The Marine Trades Association of Maryland, which represents boat dealers and manufacturers, and the Banking Association opposed the bill. Industry officials said the small number of complaints don't warrant a lemon law, which they said could hurt dealers by holding them responsible for manufacturing flaws.

"Boats have multiple parts with multiple manufacturers," said committee member Michael Busch, D-Annapolis. "You can't hold one manufacturer responsible for everything that goes into a boat."

Perry said she wasn't surprised by the outcome, adding she was disappointed more disgruntled boat owners didn't come forward.

"It would be helpful to know if there are only three who are unhappy or are there more," Perry said. "If there are more out there, it seems to me we should do something to help them rather than requirethem to take it to court."

O'Malley said he invited others to come forward.

"Next session I'll tell them they've got to be there totell their horror stories," he said. "To suggest it's just Mickey O'Malley, that's ridiculous."

Kolodziejski said he believed he and Busch had voted for the bill as a courtesy to their Anne Arundel County colleague. But, Busch said, although he and Kolodziejski spoke for the bill, they voted against it.

Busch said they convinced the committee to form a subcommittee to study the bill.

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