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§7.15 Consumer Warranty Act—Express Warranty Remedies

 
Lesson 7:
Consumer
Protection
& Warranties

In the case of express warranties, the buyer has the following remedies:

  • Replacement or reimbursement: A buyer must deliver nonconforming goods to the manufacturer’s repair facility, unless prevented because of the product’s size and weight or other factors. [CC §1793.2(c).] A manufacturer who does not service or repair the defective goods after a “reasonable number of attempts” must reimburse the purchase price less the amount attributed to the buyer’s use before discovery of the defect. [CC §1793.2(d)(1).] The buyer has a right to choose whether to receive a replacement or a refund; the manufacturer cannot force the buyer to accept a replacement. [Music Acceptance Corp. v Loring (1995) 32 CA4th 610, 620–621; see CC §1794(b).]
  • Damages: If a manufacturer, retailer, or other warrantor violates the warranty or any provision of the Act or any service contract, the buyer may recover actual damages and other legal and equitable relief without a showing that the violation was “willful.” [CC §1794(a).] This includes damages resulting from a buyer's misunderstanding of a warranty or disclaimer because of a disclosure violation or failure to disclose. [See CC §§1793.1(a)(1), 1794(a); 15 USC §2310(d).]
  • Penalty: If the seller or manufacturer willfully violates the warranty, the buyer may also recover a civil penalty not to exceed two times the amount of actual damages. [CC §1794(c).] This discretionary civil penalty is governed by a four-year statute of limitations. [Jensen v BMW of N. Am., Inc. (1995) 35 CA4th 112, 133.]
  • Costs: A buyer prevailing in any action for damages may recover costs and expenses, e.g., expert witness and copying fees are recoverable provided they were reasonably incurred by the buyer. [CC §1794(d).] A buyer’s voluntary dismissal with prejudice entered as part of a compromise agreement does not preclude the buyer from being the prevailing party. [Wohlgemuth v Caterpillar Inc. (2012) 207 CA4th 1252, 1261.] Prevailing defendants may also recover costs. [Murillo v Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc. (1998) 17 C4th 985, 999.]
  • Prejudgment interest: The prevailing consumer in an action for breach of an express or implied warranty may recover prejudgment interest under CC §3287. [Doppes v Bentley Motors, Inc. (2009) 174 CA4th 1004, 1011.]
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