Breach of Warranty

Breach of warranty law, lemon law and product liability in New Jersey

The law provides protection for consumers who purchase or lease products which cannot be fixed, do not work or cannot be fixed in a reasonable time period. There is also a requirement that the use, value or safety have been significantly affected.

The Magnusson Moss Warranty Act is the starting point for almost all breach of warranty claims. This provides remedies for personal use of products when the products do not work or cannot be fixed in a a reasonable time period. It also permits remedies for violations of any state law warranty. As an example, New Jersey requires used car dealers to provide warranties for most used cars under the New Jersey used car lemon law. The used car lemon law does not provide for fees but the Magnusson Moss Warranty Act does provide for fees and costs. Thus a violation of the used car lemon law would create a cause of action under federal law.

There are both express and implied warranties. An express warranty can be created by writing (certified used car warranty or new car warranty) or by actions or statements by the salesman, e.g., the car will not need to be repaired for 2,000 miles.

Implied warranties are created by law so as to protect consumers from products that do not work correctly. The law implies the promise or the obligation of the selling or the warrantying entity that the products works as both parties expected. Breach of warranty law is very complicated BUT it does provide for consumer-friendly remedies.

BREACH OF WARRANTY LAW AND BREACH OF WARRANTY GUIDE IN NEW JERSEY

The claim of breach of warranty made by a consumer, purchaser of goods, can be a very, very powerful claim.  The law is liberally construed in favor of the consumer and the law is liberally construed towards finding warranties that exist and finding conflicting warranties in favor of the consumer. There is a strong public policy underlying breach of warranty law in New Jersey and that is consumers and purchasers of products should have confidence in the product that they are purchasing and if the product that their purchasing does not operate as a specifically provided they should have remedies that should not be difficult to obtain.  They also can be awarded attorney fees. The proof standards are relatively low and the law favors finding warranties and establishing a breach of the warranties that exists on the products.

Under New Jersey law and in a breach of warranty case you need only demonstrate that the product does not perform as warranted. There are various cases which have been decided and published by the Supreme Court and the Appellate Division on this issue. However, once the consumer establishes that the product is warranted, that is not operating as promised in a written or express or other warranty (sample) the plaintiff has established a case. Once the plaintiff has established the case it is the defendant’s burden to produce testimony usually requiring expert testimony to demonstrate that the product is not defective and operating as specified.

That being said after having litigated thousands of breach of warranty cases it sounds a lot simpler than it actually is. The reason that it sounds simpler is that the manufacturers such as the automobile manufacturers have significant resources available including experts on staff who are employed for the sole purpose to go to court and establish that various products are operating as designed and or not operating in the defective fashion. However it can be time-consuming and expensive.

These are the types of issues that arise in warranty and lemon law litigation

  1. Does the defendant address the issue of a verbal versus nonverbal representations?
  2. Does the defendant address how permanent misrepresentation is defined under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act
  3. Does the defendant address the issue of how affirmative misrepresentation defined under the Uniform Commercial Code?Does the defendant address the issue of proximate cause or causal nexus?
  4. Does the defendant addressing the issue of reasonable basis?
  5. Does the defendant address the issue of damages?
  6. Does the defendant address the issue of intent?Does the defendant address the issue of any representations under the Uniform Commercial Code and the substantive law and interplay between the UCC and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act?
  7. Does the defendant address the issue of waiver?

Summary

Is the product for personal use or consumer use? (CONSUMER USE HAS MORE REMEDIES, SUCH AS FEES AND COSTS)

Is there an express warranty (created by manufacturer or seller) ? A warranty can be created by a statement or a sample or a photograph.

Is there an implied warranty? (State or federal law)

Has the warranty been breached? (Use, value or safety impacted)

Have they repaired the product in a reasonable time period?