Sometimes, you don’t have the benefit of a clear, express guarantee. But that doesn’t automatically mean you’re out of luck when the goods or item you purchased fail to meet expectations.

Under New York law, there are two ways that a seller of goods or products can be held liable for damages even when they don’t provide a guarantee on their products:

  1. If the product was not fit for its intended purpose; or,
  2. If the product was not fit for its reasonably foreseeable use

And yes, for those of you who are trying to keep track, these rules are codified as part of New York’s Uniform Commercial Code, which is commonly known as the UCC.

Let’s clarify these two categories of liability.

First, foreseeable use:

Granted, couches are not intended to be used as a stepstool to kill an insect on the ceiling, or to change a lightbulbs. But, as anyone can attest, couches are used this way all the time, and therefore, would almost certainly be deemed a foreseeable use of this product.

On the other hand, the roof of a car is obviously neither designed nor intended to support both a bicycle and its rider.

Second, unfit for its intended purpose:

At the risk of stating the obvious, a buyer should be entitled to return products that fail to perform their essential purpose, such as an ice pack that never freezes or lightbulbs that don’t work.

A critical point bears mention here:

An implied warranty claim remains, at its core, a breach of contract claim. Therefore, one of the elements that a plaintiff must prove is that he or she dealt directly with the defendant, which, in legalese is called privity. Without that, an implied warranty claim will almost certainly fail.

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