Breach of Warranty: Product Liability

Breach of Warranty

Breach of warranty is a concept in product liability law that refers to a failure to fulfill the terms and conditions of a warranty provided by the seller or manufacturer of a product.

When a product is sold, certain promises or guarantees are made regarding its quality, performance, or suitability for a particular purpose. Breach of warranty occurs when these promises are not upheld, leading to financial losses, personal injuries, or property damage.

When a breach of warranty is proven, the injured party may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including the cost of repairs, replacement of the product, or reimbursement for personal injuries or property damage.

Breach of Warranty

Types of Warranties

There are different types of warranties that provide consumers with legal protection when purchasing products. Two primary categories of warranties include express warranties and implied warranties.

Express Warranty

Express warranties are specific promises or guarantees made by sellers or manufacturers about a product’s quality, characteristics, or performance.

These warranties can be made orally, in writing, or through advertising and play a vital role in product liability cases. A seller or manufacturer failing to meet the promises outlined in an express warranty can lead to a breach of warranty claim.

Express warranties provide consumers with assurances about the product’s functionality and are legally binding. To establish a breach of an express warranty, the consumer must demonstrate that the warranty existed, a defect or nonconformity was present, and the breach of warranty caused harm.

They are an important aspect of product liability law, enabling consumers to hold sellers or manufacturers accountable for their promises and ensure product quality and safety.

What Constitutes an Express Warranty?

An express warranty is a representation or promise regarding the quality, performance, construction, or durability of a product.

It is a key aspect of product liability law that can have significant implications on consumer protection. Express warranties can be created through various means, such as in writing, orally, or through the provision of physical representations.

To be considered an express warranty, the assertion of fact or promise must induce a buyer to purchase the product. In other words, it must be a statement or guarantee made by the seller that influences the buyer’s decision to buy the product.

These warranties can provide consumers with a level of assurance regarding the product’s characteristics and performance.

Express warranties can include statements like “This product will last for five years” or “This product will improve your overall health.” They are meant to convey a certain level of reliability and quality.

If the product fails to meet the assertions or promises made in the express warranty, the buyer may have grounds to pursue a breach of warranty claim.

What Constitutes an Express Warranty?

Elements for an Express Warranty Claim

Certain elements must be met to establish a claim for breach of an express warranty. An express warranty is a statement or promise made by a seller that influences the buyer’s decision to purchase the product. The key elements required to prove a claim for breach of an express warranty include:

  • Breach: The product fails to meet the assertions or promises made in the express warranty. This could be due to defects in manufacturing, design, or inadequate warnings.
  • Reliance: The buyer must rely on the seller’s assertion or promise when purchasing the product. The express warranty must have played a significant role in influencing their decision.
  • Representation: The seller must make a factual assertion or promise about the product’s characteristics, quality, or performance. This representation can be made orally, in writing, or through advertisements.

If these elements are satisfied, the buyer may have grounds to pursue a breach of warranty claim. Consequences for the seller vary depending on the jurisdiction and the case’s specific circumstances.

Remedies for a breach of express warranty can include compensation for the buyer’s losses, return of the product for a refund or replacement, or other damages.

Statutory Rights Under the Magnuson-Moss Act for Express Warranties

Under the Magnuson-Moss Act, consumers are granted certain statutory rights regarding product warranties. The Act establishes requirements for warranty disclosures and outlines the distinction between full and limited warranties. [1]

To begin with, the Magnuson-Moss Act mandates that sellers provide consumers with clear and understandable written warranty disclosures.

These disclosures must include specific information such as the warranty’s duration, any limitations or exclusions, and the consumer’s rights in case of a breach of warranty.

The Act distinguishes between full and limited warranties in terms of warranty types.

A full warranty provides comprehensive protection to consumers, covering the repair or replacement of a defective product without any additional cost. On the other hand, a limited warranty offers specific coverage or contains certain restrictions.

One important provision of the Magnuson-Moss Act is the prohibition of phantom warranties. This means that sellers cannot disclaim or modify implied warranties if a written warranty is provided.

Implied Warranties

Implied warranties serve to protect consumers when purchasing products in product liability cases. The seller does not explicitly state these warranties, but they are automatically present in every sales transaction.

The implied warranty of merchantability guarantees that a product is fit for its ordinary purpose and is of reasonable quality. In other words, it assures that the product will perform as expected under normal circumstances.

If a consumer buys a new car and discovers that it has significant mechanical issues shortly after purchase, the implied warranty of merchantability would dictate that the car should have been functional.

On the other hand, the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose relates to situations where the seller knows that the consumer has a specific purpose for the product and guarantees that it is suitable for that purpose.

If a consumer asks a salesperson for a specific type of hiking boots for a strenuous mountain trek, the seller must ensure that the boots meet the demands of such an activity.

Implied warranties apply to most products sold in the marketplace unless explicitly disclaimed by the seller. These warranties protect consumers by ensuring that products are reasonably safe and fit for their intended use. They provide consumers with recourse in case a product does not meet their reasonable expectations.

Implied Warranties

Exceptions to Implied Warranties

While implied warranties provide consumers with a sense of security when purchasing products, some exceptions can limit the liability of sellers or manufacturers. These exceptions allow for disclaiming or limiting implied warranties under certain circumstances.

One exception to implied warranties is when the product is sold “as is” or “with all faults.” By explicitly stating this, sellers can disclaim any implied warranties. This is often seen in used or second-hand products where the seller does not want to be held responsible for any defects or issues that may arise.

Another exception is the disclaimer of implied warranties through written agreements or contracts. If the seller provides a written agreement stating any limitations or disclaimers of implied warranties, they can effectively exempt themselves from liability. Sellers must ensure that such disclaimers are explicitly communicated to the consumer.

Implied warranties may also not apply if the buyer examined the product before the purchase and the defects were apparent. The seller may not be held liable under implied warranties if the defects are visible or should have been discovered by a reasonable inspection.

If the buyer misused or abused the product, the implied warranties may not apply. Implied warranties are designed to cover defects that occur under the normal and intended use of the product. If the buyer uses the product in a way it was not intended for, the seller may be exempt from implied warranty liabilities.

Consumers must be aware of these exceptions, and sellers must clearly communicate any disclaimers or limitations on implied warranties. 

Statutory Rights Under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) for Implied Warranties

The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is a set of laws that governs all commercial transactions in the United States. It provides buyers with statutory rights to protect them in the event of a breach of warranty by a seller or manufacturer.

Under the UCC, buyers have the right to expect that their products are of merchantable quality. This means that the products should be fit for their ordinary purpose, free from defects, and conform to any promises or claims made by the seller.

Buyers have the right to rely on any express warranties provided by the seller or manufacturer regarding the quality or performance of the product.

In the event of a breach of warranty, buyers can use their statutory rights under the UCC to recover damages for any harm caused by the faulty products.

This can include the cost of repairs, replacement of the product, or even compensation for personal injuries or property damage resulting from the defective product.

The UCC includes several key provisions relating to breach of warranty claims. These provisions outline the remedies available to buyers, such as the right to reject the non-conforming product and seek a refund or the right to seek damages for any losses suffered as a result of the breach of warranty.

Product Defects and Liability Claims

Product defects can pose serious consumer risks and lead to injuries or property damage. The responsible party can be held liable for any resulting harm when a product is defective, whether due to a manufacturing error or a design flaw.

In product liability claims, the injured party can seek compensation for their losses by proving that the product had a defect that caused injuries and made it unreasonably dangerous.

Several legal theories can be used to establish liability, including negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. 

Manufacturing Defects

Manufacturing defects occur when a product is not made according to its intended design or specifications. These defects can occur during the production process and may be the result of a flaw in:

  • Human error
  • Machinery
  • Materials

Manufacturing defects can lead to injuries or harm to consumers because the product does not function as it is supposed to.

Manufacturing Defects

Design Defects

Design defects occur when a product is inherently flawed in its design, making it dangerous or potentially harmful to users.

Unlike manufacturing defects during production, design defects occur before the product is manufactured. These defects can lead to injuries or harm to consumers because the product’s design is inherently unsafe or inadequate.

Failure to Warn Claims

Failure to warn claims arise when a product does not include proper warnings or instructions for its safe use. Manufacturers must warn consumers of any known dangers or risks associated with their products.

Failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions can lead to injuries or harm to consumers who may use the product incorrectly or without knowledge of its risks.

If you or a loved one have experienced the unfortunate consequences of a breach of warranty, don’t hesitate to seek the guidance and support of our skilled product liability attorneys at Goldberg & Loren. 

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you navigate the legal path ahead.


[1] Businessperson’s Guide to Federal Warranty Law. (2022, August 16). Federal Trade Commission.

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