Express Warranty

Express Warranty in the United States

Express Warranty Definition

Any manifestation of the nature or quality of goods that becomes a basis of the bargain. Things expressed may be prejudicial; things not expressed are not. In Plain-English Law, Express Warranty as defined by Nolo’s Encyclopedia of Everyday Law (p. 437-455): A guarantee made by a seller about the quality of goods or services provided. An express warranty is explicitly stated, either orally or in writing.

In Products Liability

An express warranty is created whenever the seller affirms that the product will perform in a certain manner. Formal words such as “warrant” or “guarantee” are not necessary. A seller may create an express warranty as part of the basis for the bargain of sale by means of (1) an affirmation of a fact or promise relating to the goods, (2) a description of the goods, or (3) a sample or model. Any of these will create an express warranty that the goods will conform to the fact, promise, description, sample, or model. Thus a seller who states that “the use of rustproof linings in the cans would prevent discoloration and adulteration of the Perform solution” has given an express warranty, whether he realized it or not. (Rhodes Pharmacal Co. v. Continental Can Co., 219 N.E.2d 726 (Ill. 1976)). Claims of breach of express warranty are, at base, claims of misrepresentation.

But the courts will not hold a manufacturer to every statement that could conceivably be interpreted to be an express warranty. Manufacturers and sellers constantly “puff” their products, and the law is content to let them inhabit that gray area without having to make good on every claim. UCC 2-313(2) says that “an affirmation merely of the value of the goods or a statement purporting to be merely the seller’s opinion or commendation of the goods does not create a warranty.” Facts do.

It is not always easy, however, to determine the line between an express warranty and a piece of puffery. A salesperson who says that a strawberry huller is “great” has probably puffed, not warranted, when it turns out that strawberries run through the huller look like victims of a massacre. But consider the classic cases of the defective used car and the faulty bull. In the former, the salesperson said the car was in “A-1 shape” and “mechanically perfect.” In the latter, the seller said not only that the bull calf would “put the buyer on the map” but that “his father was the greatest living dairy bull.” The car, carrying the buyer’s seven-month-old child, broke down while the buyer was en route to visit her husband in the army during World War II. The court said that the salesperson had made an express warranty.Wat Henry Pontiac Co. v. Bradley, 210 P.2d 348 (Okla. 1949). The bull calf turned out to be sterile, putting the farmer on the judicial rather than the dairy map. The court said the seller’s spiel was trade talk, not a warranty that the bull would impregnate cows. (Frederickson v. Hackney, 198 N.W. 806 (Minn. 1924)). (1)

American express warranty

Is there any qualitative difference between these decisions, other than the quarter century that separates them and the different courts that rendered them? Perhaps the most that can be said is that the more specific and measurable the statement’s standards, the more likely it is that a court will hold the seller to a warranty, and that a written statement is easier to construe as a warranty than an oral one. It is also possible that courts look, if only subliminally, at how reasonable the buyer was in relying on the statement, although this ought not to be a strict test. A buyer may be unreasonable in expecting a car to get 100 miles to the gallon, but if that is what the seller promised, that ought to be an enforceable warranty.

The CISG (Article 35) provides: “The seller must deliver goods which are of the quantity, quality and description required by the contract and which are contained or packaged in the manner required by the contract. [And the] goods must possess the qualities of goods which the seller has held out to the buyer as a sample or model.” (2)

For information about Implied Warranties: Fitness for a Particular Purpose, see here.

Memory express warranty

Guarantee: warranty vs guarantee

A guarantee and warranty usually are involved when purchasing a product or a service. It depends, sometimes, on the terms and conditions of the supplier of the product or the manufacturer. A warranty is a promise or guarantee given. “In a sense, guarantee is the more general term -according to the Merriam Webster dictionary- warranty is the more specific (that is, written and legal) term. But a closer look at these words -following to the dictionary- shows a relationship that is even closer than that: they were originally one and the same.

Resources

Notes

  1. “Business and the Legal Environment”, by Don Mayer, Daniel M. Warner and George J. Siedel.

See Also

  • Warranty
  • Non nocent
  • Implied Warranty

Express Warranty: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Express Warranty. This part provides references, in relation to Express Warranty, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Express Warranty by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Express Warranty and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Express Warranty or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Express Warranty and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Express Warranty. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Express Warranty should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Express Warranty when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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