Product sellers and manufacturers make certain promises regarding the products they sell or manufacture. They may make these promises expressly or imply them by law. If you buy a product that fails to fulfill those assurances, you may file a breach of warranty lawsuit against the seller or manufacturer. This article outlines remedies for breach of warranty lawsuits.
Defining Breach of Warranty
Breach of warranty refers to a situation in which a seller fails to perform the terms of a promise, representation, or claim regarding the quality or type of a product. The law takes for granted that when a seller offers a product for sale, certain assurances or promises are made about the product, and they must honor those warranties.
Breach of warranty can happen in two ways.
Implied warranty refers to assurances the law presumes to exist even when the seller didn’t give them. Under Uniform Commercial Code § 2-314, there is an implied warranty of merchantability of goods.
The implied warranty of merchantability means the goods are of decent quality and will meet a reasonable buyer’s expectations. This warranty creates the assumption a product will work as the buyer expects it should.
There’s an implied warranty of fitness of purpose under U.C.C § 2-315. The implied warranties of fitness for a particular purpose apply when the seller knows the buyer is buying goods for a specific purpose, and the buyer relies on the seller's judgment to supply goods suitable for the specific purpose. There is an implied warranty that the goods are fit for that purpose.
If the product is not suitable for the purpose intended, even though it works perfectly, the buyer has the right to breach of warranty remedies. For example, if you ask a sales representative for a blender that can grind dry food items, they may give you a blender that can only grind fresh foods. Even if the blender grinds fresh foods perfectly, there’s still a breach of warranty of fitness of purpose.
An express warranty is a promise on a product’s condition, quality, or reliability. Unlike an implied warranty, you must clearly state an express warranty, either verbally or in writing. Although proving a verbal express warranty may be difficult.
Express warranties usually guarantee that if the product fails to perform as promised, the manufacturer will repair or replace it free of charge. It’s common to see such warranties printed on the packaging of consumer products.
Note that an express warranty can exist without formal words like “guarantee” or “warranty.” For example, if a consumer electronic product has a written statement that the product will work for ten years without breaking down, then it’s an express warranty that you can enforce if it stops working correctly.
It’s important to distinguish express warranties from mere puffery. Warranty laws allow some sales talks that are the opinion of the salesperson and not factual. The main distinction is if the salesperson expresses the statement as an opinion or fact.
What Could a Breach of Warranty Remedy Entail?
An express warranty is an agreement between two or more parties. So, a breach of warranty is essentially a breach of contract. Remedies for breach of warranty contract or implied warranty can involve any of the following.
Repairs or Replacement
Some express warranties include a promise to repair or replace the product if it breaks down or doesn’t work properly within the protected period. If the product is defective or doesn’t live up to the warranty, you can ask for a repair or replacement.
This may also be an option with implied warranties. If the product supplied is not merchantable or fit for purpose, you can demand repair or replacement.
Payment of Damages
If you incur loss due to a breach of warranty, you may have the right to recover damages as compensation. Parties may agree in their contract that a breach of a warranty gives the aggrieved party the right to damages. Even if there’s no such agreement or notice, an aggrieved party can file a breach of warranty and request damages if they can prove harm has happened.
A breach of warranty can also lead to a product liability lawsuit. If a product is defective or doesn’t work as the manufacturer or seller advertises, and you suffer losses as a result of the defect, you can file a claim for damages in a product liability lawsuit.
Under the UCC, the buyer has the right to repair, product replacement, or claim damages for breach of warranty. However, the UCC also provides that parties can agree on additional remedies (UCC § 2-719).
Parties in an agreement can agree to modify the terms of their contract in the event of a breach of a warranty to address the underlying cause(s) of the breach. The modification may be to extend the warranty period, reduce the purchase price, or adjust the scope of the warranty.
Termination of Contractual Obligations
Generally, you cannot terminate a contract because of a breach of warranty. However, if both parties deem the breach is a material breach, you may be able to do so. Parties can also agree on the condition that will give the buyer the right to terminate the contract because of a breach of warranty. The buyer will have the right to end the contract if the condition is present.
Let's Discuss Your Options for a Breach of Warranty Claim
If a seller has breached a warranty, whether the warranty is express or implied, you have the right to claim remedies for breach of warranty. You don’t have to accept damage done when the law gives you the right to correct the breach.
You can pursue several options in seeking redress for the warranty breach: repair, replacement, termination, damage, and contract modification. Analyzing your contract and your case's particular circumstances will help decide the remedy you should pursue.
Under the right circumstances, a product liability claim may also be an option in your case. Consulting with the experienced business lawyers at Dunn Sheehan will provide professional insight. Contact Dunn Sheehan today to discuss your breach of warranty case and the next steps to take.