Thursday, March 13, 2008

consumer - warranty - reduction - limitation of action/time to sue - time of agreement

Hrycay v. Monaco Coach Co. - ED Pa. - March 7, 2008

Plaintiffs bought a motor home on July 7, 2005, but did not take delivery/possession until July 15th, at which time they received a copy of a 12-month Limited Warranty, which required them to bring an enforcement action within 90 days after the expiration of the warranty. Plaintiffs allege that on July 7th, they were told only that the warranty was for 12 months, but nothing about about the further limitation about when they had to sue.

They had a lot of problems with the motor home, including an extended period in the shop and brought suit in May 2007 for breach of warranty, the Pennsylvania UTPCPL, 73 P.S. 201-1 et seq., and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act, 15 USC 2301.

Defendant/seller moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiffs had 15 months from the date of purchase to bring suit, i.e., on or before October 15, 2006. Plaintiffs argued that there was no "agreement" under UCC 2-725(a) to limit the period in which to bring a warranty claim, since they were not furnished with a copy of the limitation clause until after the date of purchase, July 7, 2005.

"Generally, the statute of limitations for breach of warranty claims is four years, 13 Pa. C.S. 2725(a). However, the UCC permits the statutory period to be reduced upon agreement of the parties to a period not less than one year. Id. Thus, the question before the Court is whether the parties reduced the limitations period by their original agreement. The UCC defines 'agreement” as “[t]he bargain of the parties in fact as found in their language or by implication from other circumstances including course of dealing or usage of trade or course of performance as provided in this title.' 13 Pa. C.S. § 1201"

The court denied defendant's motion for summary judgment, holding that plaintiffs "presented enough evidence to constitute a genuine issue of material fact as to whether an 'agreement' existed between the parties to effectively reduce the statute of limitations from four years to one year and three months. The [plaintiffs] allege that there was no bargaining as to the terms of the warranty because they were completely unaware of the reduction in limitations clause [at the time they entered into the contract - July 7th] and were only given a copy of it after the date of sale [on the date of delivery]. If these allegations prove true, a reasonable jury could find that there was no bargain, and thus no agreement between the parties, which is required under the UCC to reduce the limitations period. Under these circumstances, the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury.