Warranty Paper on Clipboard next to Glasses

Breach of Express or Implied Warranty

William B. Hanley July 30, 2021

Imagine that you own a business selling consumer products, and suddenly you’re faced with a slew of lawsuits over one particular product. The consumers are alleging a breach of warranty. You review the warranty and decide either they didn’t read it correctly or they caused the problem that they are now seeking compensation for. In situations like this, your next step should be to consult with an experienced California commercial litigation attorney to discuss your options and your possible defense, should matters end up in court.

If you’re located in or near Irvine, California, or anywhere across Orange County, Los Angeles County, or San Diego County, contact William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law. Bill has over 40 years of experience representing business clientele. He will listen to your situation, explore all of your legal options, communicate openly with you, and represent you to the fullest extent in any resulting legal actions.

Types of Warranties

It’s important to remember that only two types of warranties are recognized by California law. One is called “express,” which can be written or oral. The other is called “implied.”

Express Warranties

Many consumer or commercial products that people purchase come with express written warranties, basically promising that the product is defect-free and will work as advertised. Some will include warranty periods, say for 60 or 120 days after purchase, during which the product will be restored to working condition or replaced if it does not work as intended. However, most warranties will also contain limitations, exclusions, and warnings against misuse.

If a seller makes an oral statement about the product that a customer is buying, such as “this should last you for at least two years,” and the buyer relies on that statement in purchasing the product, that statement becomes an express oral warranty. The catch here is that the buyer would have to be able to prove the seller made that statement in order for the warranty to hold any weight in court. 

Implied Warranties

There are two types of implied warranties: implied warranty of merchantability and implied warranty of fitness. An implied warranty of merchantability applies to consumer and commercial products, assuring that the product will work for the purpose for which it is intended if used as directed or reasonably expected. An implied warranty of merchantability is a guarantee that the product does not have design defects, manufacturing defects, or improper labels.

For instance, a lawnmower is designed to cut grass, and that function represents an implied warranty of merchantability. An implied warranty of fitness assures that the product will fit the needs for which one purchases it. For instance, if you tell the seller you need a piece of software that does “X, Y, and Z,” and the seller says it will, this represents an implied warranty of fitness.

What Is a Breach of Warranty?

For a product that doesn’t perform as advertised — for instance, a lawnmower that won’t cut your grass — a breach of warranty, whether express or implied, can be said to have occurred. A new lawnmower may have a written warranty attached. If not, an implied warranty of merchantability may apply.

If a product doesn’t do what the seller promises, as with the software example above, a claim based on an implied warranty of fitness can ensue. If an express warranty promises to repair or replace a product that fails because of defects, and the seller does not honor the warranty, then a breach can definitely be said to have occurred.

Statute of Limitations

Under California Uniform Commercial Code Section 2725, a claim for breach of warranty must be made within four years of the delivery date of the goods, regardless of when the breach occurs, unless the “warranty explicitly extends to the future performance of the goods and discovery of the breach must await the time of such discovery.”

Defenses to Breach of Warranty

The simplest defense is to show that no warranty exists, whether it’s an oral or implied warranty. If the seller made comments about the product, the defense can claim that it was mere “puffery” and not a promise.

Another defense is that the buyer misused or failed to comply with the provisions of the warranty. In short, the buyer caused the problem that led to the breach claim by trying to use it for a purpose other than what it was intended for, or by using it in a way that the warranty cautioned against.

Some products might come with an express printed disclaimer denying that any implied or other warranties exist. Disclaimers can be used in defense of an alleged breach. For instance, a disclaimer can exclude merchantability and fitness claims that extend beyond what the express warranty provides.

A product may also come with contractual limitations. The Universal Commercial Code states that a warranty may limit the “buyer’s remedies to return of the goods and repayment of the price or to repair and replacement of non-conforming goods or parts.”

Let William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law, Help

If your business faces litigation because of an alleged breach of warranty, you can rely on William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law to help you craft a defense strategy and resolve the pending legal action — whether in the courtroom or through negotiation or mediation. 

When you bring your particular case to his attention, Bill will examine all of your legal options and guide you accordingly. If your case requires going to trial, he will represent you vigorously using his extensive litigation experience to pursue the best possible outcome for your case.

William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law, is located in Irvine, California, but routinely represents clients throughout the surrounding areas including Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Diego County.