For the uninitiated, there are two main kinds of warranties that exist under the law: express warranties and implied warranties.

As you can probably guess, an express warranty is explicit: it sets forth, in writing, exactly what they're guaranteeing.

Not surpisingly, an implied warranty is far trickier.

The Two Primary Contexts in Which Implied Warranties Exist

By way of background, implied warranties are primarily applied in two contexts in New York: (1) in the breach of contract for goods context; and, (2) where a product was not safe for its intended use, i.e.,  in the defective consumer products context (for more on the latter category, please see "How to Prove a Breach of Implied Warranty Claim Under New York Law").

But in the breach of contract context as between a purchaser and seller of goods, UCC 2-315, entitled "Implied Warranty: Fitness for Particular Purpose," is the guiding statute. It provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

"Where the seller at the time of contracting has reason to know any particular purpose for which the goods are required and that the buyer is relying on the seller's skill or judgment to select or furnish suitable goods, there is unless excluded or modified under the next section an implied warranty that the goods shall be fit for such purpose."

That being said, the very next statute, UCC 2-316, provides an exception that can swallow the rule that would allow for a breach of contract action based on breach of warranty, however. This provision, entitled "Exclusion or Modification of Warranties," provides several methods by which implied warranties may be excluded from a sales contract, including by, for example, a "conspicuous" written disclaimer. (See, Brennan v. Shapiro, 12 AD3d 547.)

Therefore, in order to assess the viability of a breach of implied warranty claim, it is critical that you review the language of the contract; more often than not, it will contain a written disclaimer that will sound the death knell for a breach of warranty action.

A Word of Caution

To that end, we feel obligated to stress that properly assessing warranty language may require the assistance of an attorney that is experienced in these matters, and if you're talking about a potential loss that is significant, it's probably worthwhile to invest that nominal amount to see if legal action is warranted to protect your interests.

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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