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Illinois Courts Increase Warranty Protections

Today, almost any product you purchase--a car, a computer, a television--comes with a warranty. However, a warranty is not worth a thing if it is not honored when you need it. Thanks to two recent decisions, both involving warranties given by DaimlerChrysler, more Illinois consumers will be protected by the warranties they bought.

The first case involved a used car that the plaintiff purchased. The car had about one year left on the factory warranty. When the car had problems, the new owner took it to be repaired, but the dealer was unable to correct the problems. Three years later, the owner sued.

DaimlerChrysler argued that the plaintiff had waited too long to file a suit. In Illinois, a complaint about a warranty usually must be brought within four years from the time that the complaint arises. DaimlerChrysler argued that this time period is measured from the date that a car was purchased as new, and that the plaintiff's suit was too late.

The Illinois Supreme Court rejected this argument because the warranty involved promised future action--repairs if a warranted part failed--and, therefore, the claim did not arise until the dealer tried and failed to make the necessary repairs. The court ruled that the lawsuit was valid because it was filed within four years from the time that the promised repair actually failed. This sensible decision means that a person who receives a "10-year, 100,000-mile" warranty on a car can bring a warranty claim even after the first four years of ownership.

In the second case, a buyer purchased a new truck, but it had to be returned to the dealership for repairs 12 times in 18 months. The truck owner sued the manufacturer, DaimlerChrysler, for breach of warranty. He eventually traded in the truck for a new one, and he was paid more than the market value of the truck as part of the trade.

The manufacturer argued that the owner was not damaged, because he received more for the truck than it was worth. The Illinois court rejected this argument, finding that the question was not what was the truck worth when the owner got rid of it but, rather, what it was worth when he bought it.

The evidence showed that the truck was defective when it was sold and that these defects caused it to be worth less than the owner paid for it. As a result, his damages were the difference between what a truck in good condition would have been worth and its actual value at the time.

Both of these decisions increase the practical protections that warranties provide in Illinois, and should ensure that more Illinois consumers will get what they pay for.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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