Scott M. Cohen is consumer protection attorney concentrating his practice in lemon law, breach of warranty, and automotive fraud matters. Mr. Cohen earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 1993 and his Juris Doctor degree from Ohio Northern University, Pettit College of Law in 1996. While at Ohio Northern University, he was an Associate Editor of the Ohio Northern University Law Review. Mr. Cohen was licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois in 1996 and the State of Indiana in 1999. He is also admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the United States District Courts for the Northern and Central Districts of Illinois, as well as the Northern District of Indiana.
Mr. Cohen joined Krohn & Moss, Ltd. in 1996 and since that time has successfully resolved thousands of consumer actions. He has an AV Preeminent Rating with Martindale-Hubbell. This rating signifies that Mr. Cohen’s peers rank him at the highest level of professional excellence for his legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards. Additionally, Mr. Cohen has a “Superb” rating with Avvo.com, one of the nation’s largest attorney rating and referral services. He was also the recipient of the Avvo.com Clients’ Choice Award in 2014 – 2017. Mr. Cohen has been recognized in 2015 – 2018 as a “Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters, an honor bestowed to only five (5) percent of practicing attorneys for their excellence in practice. Chicago Magazine has also identified Mr. Cohen as a “Top Attorney” in the State of Illinois from 2015 – 2018. In 2017, Mr. Cohen was named by the National Trial Lawyers as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer for the State of Illinois. In April of 2017, American Registry named Mr. Cohen one of America’s Top 5% Most Honored Professionals for 2017.
As nationwide appellate counsel for Krohn & Moss, Ltd., Mr. Cohen has successfully argued six (6) landmark consumer appeals before the Supreme Courts of the States of Illinois, Indiana, Florida, and Wisconsin. He has also successfully argued appeals of significant consumer interest before the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the appellate courts for the States of Illinois, California, Missouri, Georgia, and Florida. In total, he has presented oral argument to the above-listed appellate and state supreme courts on approximately forty (40) occasions and he has prevailed in well over fifty (50) appeals, including reversing over thirty (30) trial level decisions. Mr. Cohen also has tried approximately fifteen (15) consumer actions to verdict and has managed dozens of other appeals for Krohn & Moss, Ltd.
In 2005, Mr. Cohen was selected by the Honorable Paddy McNamara of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois to be on the Commercial Litigation Committee of the Chicago Bar Association to draft pattern jury instructions for the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Ultimately, pattern jury instructions shaped by Mr. Cohen’s appellate achievements were approved by the Committee and submitted to the Illinois Supreme Court who adopted the instructions with very minor revisions in January of 2007. See Ill. Pattern Jury Instr. Civ. 185.01. These instructions are believed to be the only Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act pattern jury instructions in the nation.
Currently, Mr. Cohen co-manages the lemon law litigation department of Krohn & Moss, Ltd. and he manages the firm’s ongoing appeals. Mr. Cohen’s advocacy continues to pave the way for consumers across the nation to be able to redress their grievances against some of the nation’s largest corporations. Some of Mr. Cohen’s appellate achievements on behalf of consumers are summarized below:
STATE SUPREME COURT VICTORIES
Mr. Cohen’s first State Supreme Court victory occurred on February 16, 2005 when he convinced the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Mayberry v. Volkswagen of America, Inc. , 692 N.W.2d 226, 2005-1 Trade Cases P 74,710, 2005 WI 13 (Feb. 16, 2005) in a unanimous (7-0) decision to allow a consumer’s claim to proceed for breach of warranty pursuant to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act despite the fact that the consumer had traded-in the subject vehicle for more money than it was worth at the time of trade. The Wisconsin Supreme Court determined that for a breach of warranty action, damages are measured at the time and place of acceptance, i.e., when originally sold as “new” as opposed to at some later moment in time. The Court also concluded that layperson testimony from the owner of a vehicle may form the basis of establishing diminished value damages irrespective of the amount received on trade. The Court’s decision reversed a previous trial court order dismissing Ms. Mayberry’s action.
Less than one week later, on February 22, 2005 in Hyundai Motor America, Inc. v. Goodin , 822 N.E.2d 947 (Feb. 22, 2005), Mr. Cohen successfully convinced the Indiana Supreme Court in a unanimous (5-0) decision to abolish the doctrine of privity of contract, a direct buyer-seller relationship, as a requirement for suing a car manufacturer regarding the merchantability or fitness of an automobile pursuant to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Whereas prior to this decision a consumer could only pursue a merchantability claim against a car dealer, presuming that the dealer had not disclaimed the claim in the fine print of the purchase documents, the door was now open to pursue these claims against manufacturers and distributors of consumer products. Further, the Court’s opinion reinstated Ms. Goodin’s favorable jury verdict and reversed the Appellate Court for taking away the verdict.
On May 27, 2005, Mr. Cohen prevailed again before the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Peterson v. Volkswagen of America, Inc. , 697 N.W.2d 61 (May 27, 2005) in a unanimous (7-0) decision. In Peterson, the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Cohen’s argument that leased vehicles are covered by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in contravention to a New York high court decision from 2002, DiCintio v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 97 N.Y.2d 463, 742 N.Y.S.2d 182, 768 N.E.2d 1121 (2002). The Court noted that the reasoning of the authorities relied upon by Mr. Cohen, mainly other cases in which he had prevailed on this same issue, was more congruent with the plain meaning of the pertinent provisions of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act than the analysis employed by the New York high court in DiCintio. The Court’s decision reversed a previous trial court order dismissing Ms. Peterson’s action.
On December 7, 2005, Mr. Cohen successfully convinced the Indiana Supreme Court in Daimler Chrysler Corp. v. Yaeger , 838 N.E.2d 449, 449-50 (Ind. 2005) to dismiss an appeal brought by Chrysler. After the trial court denied Chrysler’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint and compel arbitration, Chrysler brought an interlocutory appeal without first seeking trial court certification. Mr. Cohen filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, which a majority of a panel of the Court of Appeals denied, holding that it had discretion to address the appeal under Indiana Appellate Rule 66(B). The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer and reversed the Appellate Court finding that the Indiana Appellate did not authorize Chrysler’s interlocutory appeal.
Mr. Cohen then prevailed on June 29, 2006 before the Illinois Supreme Court in Razor v. Hyundai Motor America, Inc. , 222 Ill. 2d 75 (2006) certiorari denied by Hyundai Motor America v. Razor, 127 S.Ct. 1156 (2007). In Razor, the Illinois Supreme Court held that Hyundai’s disclaimer of consequential damages, i.e., aggravation and inconvenience and loss of use, was unconscionable thus allowing a consumer access to these damages despite the fine print in Hyundai’s warranty provided after the purchase transaction was consummated. The Court also held that Ms. Razor, a layperson, should have been allowed to testify to the value of her own automobile in order to establish her diminished value damages at the time she originally purchased her automobile pursuant to her claim for breach of warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
On April 12, 2007, Mr. Cohen prevailed before the Florida Supreme Court in American Honda Motor Company, Inc. v. Cerasani , 955 So.2d 543 (Fl. 2007) in a unanimous (7-0) decision. In Cerasani, Honda appealed to the Florida Supreme Court after Mr. Cohen had prevailed at the appellate level and reversed the trial court’s order dismissing the consumer’s breach of warranty claims. The Florida Supreme Court certified the appellate level decision as being in conflict with Sellers v. Frank Griffin AMC Jeep, Inc., 526 So. 2d 147 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988) (finding that the leased vehicle at issue was not covered by the Warranty Act) and agreed to hear the case. Relying upon authority from cases successfully handled by Mr. Cohen on this same issue, including Peterson listed above, the Florida Supreme Court disapproved Sellers and affirmed the District Court of Appeal’s decision that leased automobiles are covered by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
On September 20, 2007, Mr. Cohen prevailed a second time before the Illinois Supreme Court in Mydlach v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation , 875 N.E.2d 1047. In Mydlach, the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s breach of warranty action brought pursuant to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act finding that the claim was barred by the statute of limitations since the vehicle at issue, purchased used by Ms. Mydlach, was originally sold as “new” more than four (4) years from the date the plaintiff filed suit against DaimlerChrysler. After Mr. Cohen prevailed on appeal before the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Court’s reversal of the trial court’s dismissal order. While the Illinois Supreme Court did find that a “used” car purchaser could not revoke acceptance of the vehicle against DaimlerChrysler, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the plaintiff’s breach of warranty claim was not barred by the statute of limitations and that the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act provided an independent cause of action for the plaintiff to pursue a claim for monetary damages against DaimlerChrysler. The Illinois Supreme Court ultimately concluded that the statute of limitations for a breach of warranty could not begin to toll until there was at least a failure on the part of the warrantor to comply with its obligations to repair.
APPELLATE COURT DECISIONS
Mr. Cohen has also successfully handled the following appeals:
- Mrugala v. Fairfield Ford, Inc. , 325 Ill. App. 3d 484; 758 N.E.2d 423 (1st Dist. Ill. 2001) (trial court order requiring return of subject vehicle despite fact only a diminished value recovery was sought was reversed and consumer was entitled to retain possession of his vehicle and damages under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Action);
- Lara v. Hyundai Motor America , 331 Ill. App. 3d 53; 770 N.E.2d 721 (2nd Dist. Ill. 2002) (trial court’s dismissal of action due to repossession of vehicle reversed in this breach of warranty action under Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act);
- Dekelaita v. Nissan Motor Corp. , 799 N.E.2d 367; 278 Ill. Dec. 649 (1st Dist. Ill. 2003) (trial court’s dismissal of Magnuson-Moss action due to the subject vehicle being leased reversed on appeal);
- Check v. Clifford Chrysler-Plymouth of Buffalo Grove, Inc. , 342 Ill. App. 3d 150; 794 N.E.2d 829 (1st Dist. Ill. 2003) (judgment in favor of consumer following jury trial in consumer fraud and breach of implied warranty action under Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act affirmed on appeal) (petition for rehearing and for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court denied);
- Mayberry v. Volkswagen of America, Inc. , 271 Wis.2d 258, 678 N.W.2d 357 (Wis. Ct. App. Feb. 24, 2004) (reversed trial court’s dismissal of action under Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act finding that that the consumer had sustained damages despite trading-in the subject vehicle for more money than its value at the time of trade);
- Melton v. Frigidaire and Best Buy , 346 Ill.App.3d 331, 805 N.E.2d 322 (1st Dist. Ill. Feb. 24, 2004) (attorneys’ fee award under Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act affirmed on appeal); (petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court denied);
- Mekertichian v. Mercedes Benz USA , 347 Ill.App.3d 828, 807 N.E.2d 1165 (1st Dist. Mar. 31 2004) (affirmed trial court’s denial of motion to dismiss implied warranty action pursuant to Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act finding that doctrine of privity of contract was not a bar to pursue implied warranty action); (petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court denied);
- Pearson and Zenari v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation , 813 N.E.2d 230 (1st Dist. Ill. Mar. 31 2004); (trial court’s dismissal of two actions under Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act due to fact subject vehicles were fixed was reversed in this consolidated appeal with the court finding that an issue of fact existed as to whether the vehicles were fixed within a reasonable number of attempts) (petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court denied);
- Mangold v. Nissan Motor Corporation , 347 Ill.App.3d 1008, 809 N.E.2d 251 (3rd Dist. Ill. Apr. 30, 2004) (lessees have standing to pursue Magnuson-Moss action);
- Peterson v. Volkswagen of America, Inc. , 272 Wis.2d 676, 679 N.W.2d 840 (Wis. Ct. App. Mar. 31, 2004); (reversed trial court for dismissing Magnuson-Moss action solely because subject vehicle was leased);
- DaimlerChrysler Corporation v. Franklin , 814 N.E.2d 281 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004) (affirmed judgment on jury’s verdict finding that plaintiff had not consented to resolve his Magnuson-Moss claims through binding arbitration);
- Esmurdoc v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation , 2004 WL 2347566, 29 Fla. L. Weekly D2343 (Fl. Ct. App. 2004) (reversed trial court’s dismissal of action finding that plaintiff did not consent to arbitrate her Magnuson-Moss claims with Chrysler);
- Paige v. Hyundai Motor America, Inc. , 271 Ga.App. 214, 609 S.E.2d 168 (Ga. Ct. App. 2005) (reversed trial court for dismissing Magnuson-Moss action due to fact plaintiff allegedly did not participate in informal dispute resolution in good faith);
- Brentine v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation , 356 Ill.App.3d 760, 826 N.E.2d 1057 (1st Dist. Ill. 2005) (trial court’s order upholding settlement agreement in Magnuson-Moss action affirmed on appeal);
- Craine v. Bill Kay’s Downers Grove Nissan , 354 Ill. App. 3d 1023; 822 N.E.2d 941 (2nd Dist. Ill. 2005) (trial court’s order finding that consumer’s claims were not subject to binding arbitration affirmed on appeal);
- Edwards v. Hyundai Motor America , 163 S.W.3d 494 (Mo. Ct. App. 2005) (trial court order dismissing Magnuson-Moss action on statute of limitations grounds reversed on appeal);
- Zietara v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation , 361 Ill.App.3d 819, 838 N.E.2d 76 (1st Dist. Ill. 2005) (trial court order debarring consumer from rejecting arbitration award in Magnuson-Moss action reversed on appeal);
- Andreasen v. Hyundai Motor America , 2005 WL 2885621 (Cal. App. 2005) (order limiting award of attorneys’ fees to consumer to a percentage of the underlying recovery in a Magnuson-Moss action reversed on appeal);
- Brophy v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. , 932 So.2d 272 (Fla. App. 2005) (trial court order dismissing Magnuson-Moss action because subject vehicle was leased reversed on appeal);
- O’Connor v. BMW of North America, LLC , 905 So. 2d 235 (Fla. App. 2005) (trial court entry of summary judgment in favor of BMW on Magnuson-Moss action because subject vehicle was leased reversed on appeal);
- Cerasani v. American Honda Motor Co. , 916 So. 2d 843 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2005) (reversed order of trial court improperly dismissing Magnuson-Moss action, because subject vehicle was leased);
- Mattuck v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. , 366 Ill.App.3d 1026, 852 N.E.2d 485 (1st Dist. 2006) (judgment on jury’s verdict pursuant to Magnuson-Moss action, including determination of damages based on testimony of Plaintiff’s mechanical expert Thomas Walters, affirmed on appeal);
- Shoop v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. , 864 N.E.2d 785 (1st Dist. 2007) (entry of summary judgment in Magnuson-Moss action in favor of Defendant on issue of damages based, in part, on the testimony of Thomas Walters reversed on appeal);
- Brunner v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. , 2007 WL 1021392 (Cal. Ct. App. April 5, 2007) (judgment on jury’s verdict in Magnuson-Moss action affirmed on appeal where court rejected Chrysler’s contention that layperson testimony on damages alone was insufficient to support verdict);
- Sawyer v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC , 2007 WL 2070458 (Cal. Ct. App. July 20, 2007) (judgment on verdict in favor of consumer affirmed on appeal where court rejected Mercedes-Benz contention that there was not substantial evidence to support the verdict, because the testimony at trial regarding the diminution in value lacked foundation).
- San Martin v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. , 983 So. 2d 620 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2008) (trial court’s denial of attorneys’ fees in Magnuson-Moss action finding consumer was not the prevailing party after accepting Chrysler’s Offer of Judgment reversed on appeal);
- Kirkton v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. , 2008 WL 1947916 (Cal. Ct. App. May 6, 2008) (judgment on jury’s verdict in Magnuson-Moss action affirmed on appeal where court rejected Chrysler’s contention that layperson testimony on damages alone was insufficient to support verdict);
- Jones v. Nissan North America, Inc. , 385 Ill. App. 3d 740, 895 N.E.2d 303 (2d. Dist. Sept. 11, 2008) (trial court’s dismissal of Magnuson-Moss action due to consumer’s ineligibility to participate in informal dispute resolution after disposal of subject vehicle reversed on appeal); and
- Hanson-Suminski v. Rohrman Midwest Motors, Inc. , 386 Ill. App. 3d 585, 898 N.E.2d 194 (1st Dist. Nov. 7, 2008) (judgment on consumer fraud verdict affirmed on appeal).