Court Decision Could Limit Product Warranties

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Any manufacturer, distributor or seller of products will want to pay close attention to how the West Virginia Supreme Court decides a case that will have important implications on product warranties. The Supreme Court is being asked whether a store can limit a product's warranty to the original purchaser.

In the pending case, a used truck was purchased by the plaintiff from another private individual. Several months later, the battery failed. The plaintiff then approached the seller of the truck and obtained a copy of the warranty that applied to the battery that was in the truck at the time the plaintiff purchased the truck. With a copy of the original receipt and warranty in hand, the plaintiff approached the store from which the battery was purchased. The store denied the request for a refund on the battery because the 24-month warranty was clearly and specifically limited to the original purchaser. Since the plaintiff did not purchase the battery from the store, the plaintiff was not the original purchaser. The plaintiff filed suit against the store and is seeking to enforce the warranty that applied to the battery. The plaintiff is attempting to bring a class action suit and is claiming that the sale of each battery for a period of three years before suit was filed violated the Consumer Credit and Protection Act.

The trial court certified a question to the West Virginia Supreme Court to provide guidance on this issue. In January 2010, the West Virginia Supreme Court voted unanimously to accept the certified question. The Court has not yet issued its decision.

If this type of cause of action can move forward, it will most likely prompt copycat lawsuits against other manufacturers and sellers of products with "original purchaser" limited warranties.

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(304) 933-8164
Bridgeport, WV