Ford Motor Credit v. Mendola - Breach of Warranty
Warranty Law favors consumers against those that have sold, distributed or manufactured a product that does not work.
The Appellate Division just held that expert testimony is not needed in a breach of warranty case. The case revolved around a car that was acquired by the defendants, they stopped paying on the car and were sued by the finance company. The counterclaimed against the finance company and they sued the dealer who repaired the car after an accident for negligence.
The case was thrown out at the trial level because the consumer had no expert witness and the trial Judge opined that one was needed. The upper court disagreed and reinstated the case as to the warranty claims. The negligence claims were thrown out.
The cost of the warranty is included in the cost of the product. The consumer has purchased the warranty along with the car. It is “part of the benefit of the bargain.” Thiedemann v. Mercedes–Benz USA, LLC, 183 N.J. 234, 251, 872 A.2d 783 (2005). The warranty would not have its apparent value if the consumer were initially required to prove, with the aid of an independent expert, that a defect in the product is the cause of its non-performance as warranted. Because a manufacturer or seller is in a better position to detect the cause of failed performance and to pass the cost on to consumers of making that determination, Spring Motors, supra, 98 N.J. at 567–68, 489 A.2d 660, it is fair and reasonable that the manufacturer or seller bear the burden of proving that it corrected a defect in a non-performing vehicle or that the failure of the vehicle was unrelated to the terms of the express warranty, see Cintrone, supra, 45 N.J. at 450–51, 212 A.2d 769; Jankowitz, supra, 216 N.J.Super. at 337–38, 523 A.2d 695.
Ford Motor Credit Co., LLC v. Jaguar Land Rover N. Am., LLC, A-4675-10T1, 2012 WL 3000233 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. July 24, 2012)
The bottom line is that NO expert is needed in a breach of warranty case.
The breach of warranty law in New Jersey is very favorable towards consumers. The basic premise is that the consumer who was purchased the product in excess of $5 must demonstrate that the product cannot or does not comply with all of the applicable warranties. Without discussing the difference between an express and implied warranty, one need only understand that a warranty is in essence a contract with the consumer.
So when you buy a product there is a warranty or a promise from the business or the manufacturer that the product will work as promised. The underlying premise is that when the product is not work promise, there might be other types of promises, but definitely when a product is not work inconsistent with a written promise the one who sold, distributed or manufactured the product has breached the agreement between the parties. Again, the underlying theory is that since the agreement between the parties has been breached the consumer who purchased the product with the contract has a claim against those who sold manufactured or distributed the product. The Uniform Commercial Code attempts to keep this relatively simple so as to prohibit consumers understand their rights under the law. Unfortunately, it is not that simple and that the various limitations and disclaimers that it are associated with warranties get very complicated. So for now the basic underlying premise that if a product is not work as promised one might have a claim for a violation of that agreement or express warranty and might sue those responsible for manufacturing distributing and selling the product.
Breach of warranty claims can be tricky. You have the law which establishes breach of warranty. This is set forth above. However, the statements made by the business, an auto dealership are important. Each document signed by the consumer is relevant and must be examined.
It is important to look at the documents and understand what was said to the customer in the context of the breach of warranty law under both Federal and State laws. The federal laws are little different, and they are encompassed under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act and are somewhat complicated. There are similarities under state law and the basic concept is that if he purchased a consumer good you should be able to use it for its intended purpose. If he purchased the car you should drive it. If you purchased an electric opener should be able to open cans. However, the issue becomes when the product does not perform, however the warranties have been limited or vary or contradicted under state or federal law. These documents must be examined.
The Uniform Commercial Code can be very beneficial when interpreting warranty claims. The Uniform Commercial Code is meant to assist consumers and liberally construed the Uniform Commercial Code to create warranties. A warranty can be created by words. A warranty can be created any number of ways including a photograph a sample or other representation as to what the goods are, with the goods can do. This can include a picture. If you present a picture of the good must be what is presented in the picture. If you provide a description of the good must perform consistently the description. If you provide a sample the good which is provided must be consistent with the sample.
You start by looking at the good. You then look at the warranty documents. You then look at what was said by the sales staff and any pictures were statements that were made pertaining to the goods and their performance. You then look the New Jersey law to determine what is and is not considered a warranty.
Breach of warranty law is different than consumer fraud law. Under New Jersey law there are no attorney’s fees and the run a tripling damage however, under the federal outline of breach of warranty law you can potentially get attorney’s fees. This is where it gets complicated.
An experienced attorney knowledgeable warranty law will must be consulted
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