Wednesday, February 8, 2006
A manufacturer who keeps fixing defects in a product under a limited repair-and-replace warranty doesn’t violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act even if the repairs don't solve the problem and the product continues to fail, according to a new decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals.
In the case, a car buyer got General Motors’s “limited express warranty” which provided that GM “will pay for repairs needed to correct defects in materials or workmanship,” and that “[w]arranty repairs, including towing, parts and labor, will be made at No Charge.” There was no dispute that GM repeatedly paid to fix problems with the buyer’s car, but the repairs never managed to fix whatever the problems were. The buyer argued that after a certain number of repeated failures, GM ought be found in violation of the MMWA.
The problem with that argument, said the court, is that the buyer confused the state UCC claims with the MMWA. It’s true that the seller’s repeated failures may cause a remedy to “fail of its essential purpose” under UCC § 2-719(2), and that the buyer may be entitled to one of the Code's default remedies if it does. But that has nothing to do with the MMWA. Since Congress explicitly included the right to full refund or replacement under such circumstances where a full warranty is given, it must (said the court) have meant that the same right did not apply to a limited warranty. Summary judgment was therefore appropriate for GM.
Chaurasia v. GMC, 2006 Ariz. App. LEXIS 1 (Jan. 3, 2006)