Another California Court Declines to Require Privity for Breach of Warranty Claims

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A recent post noted that several recent decisions have undermined the privity requirement that has been applied to breach of implied warranty claims under the U.C.C. in California.  A recent Central District of California opinion continues that trend.

In Michael v. Honest Co., No. 15-cv-07059 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 6, 2016), Judge John A. Kronstadt declined to dismiss both express and implied warranty claims under California law.  Plaintiffs brought their implied warranty claims under California’s U.C.C. provision, rather than under the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (which does not have a privity requirement).

The court held first that “Plaintiffs’ express warranty claim is sufficiently alleged because vertical privity is not required for such claims.”  The court then recognized that while privity is required under the California U.C.C. provision for implied warranty claims, there is a recognized exception for when the plaintiff is a third-party beneficiary of the contract between the manufacturer and retailer.  Because plaintiffs had bought a consumer product (sunscreen), the court had no trouble holding plaintiffs were third-party beneficiaries and that the privity requirement did not apply.… Read more

In re: Rust-Oleum (N.D. Ill.)

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Judge Amy St. Eve’s recent motion to dismiss ruling in the In re Rust-Oleum Restore Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, 2016 WL 74671 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 7, 2016), is worthy of review — it covers a range of warranty and consumer protection issues.

The opinion is noted without further analysis since my colleagues and I contributed to the pleadings.… Read more

N.D. Cal. Certification of UCC Warranty Claim Against Hewlett-Packard

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On December 18, 2015, Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the Northern District of California issued a ruling certifying a California-only class in a case brought by HP customers who alleged their computers were not equipped with the promised wireless cards. See generally Karim v. Hewlett-Packard Co., No. 12-CV-5240, 2015 WL 9258100 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 18, 2015).

The ruling, along with Judge Hamilton’s previous certification-related opinion in the same case, provide useful guidance on the question of what the of exposure class members need to show in connection for an affirmation that is alleged to form part of the basis of the bargain for an express warranty.

HP had cited a number of cases for the proposition that plaintiff would not be able to show through common proof that the challenged statement formed a basis for each class member’s bargain.  HP had previously cast a similar argument on reliance grounds, but Judge Hamilton ruled that a long line of cases requiring reliance (based on Williams v. Beechnut Nutrition, 185 Cal.App.3d 135 (1986)), had been abrogated by the enactment of section 2313.  This time, HP recast its argument as one of “exposure.”

Judge Hamilton, relying on the analysis in Weinstat v. Dentsply Int’l, Inc., 180 Cal.App.4th 1213 (2010), held that while exposure is relevant, it does not require that the buyers must prove that they actually read the statement; instead … “it is sufficient for plaintiff to show that the statement was made available to them.”  Because the plaintiff had limited the class to those who purchased computers (i) while the relevant language was on the website, (ii) using a customization feature available on the website, plaintiff “met its burden” of limiting the class to “purchasers to whom the representation was made available.”… Read more