Express warranties are affirmative promises made by the seller relating to the quality, description and/or features of a particular good, and which become a basis of the bargain. Implied warranties, on the other hand, need not be expressly made by the seller to the purchaser of a good, but rather are implied under a sales contract by the purchase itself. Whether express or implied, a seller may disclaim a warranty, but such disclaimer is only effective to the extent of its adherence to specific provisions, as proscribed by the laws of the jurisdiction governing the sales contract.
In cause of actions arising over the sale of commercial laundry equipment, disputes often hinge upon the presence or absence of a breach in implied warranty, such as those for merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. While one party may argue that an implied warranty has been properly disclaimed, an opposing party may argue that no disclaimer was made, or was made in an improper manner. Such was the case in H&H Laundry Corp. of Orlando, Inc v. TheLaundryList.com, Inc., No. 6: 10-cv-938-Orl-31 GJK (M.D. Fla. Aug. 6, 2010) (hereinafter “H&H Laundry”) which involved contracts entered into for the sale of commercial laundry equipment, some of which, as Plaintiffs alleged, had been delivered in inoperable condition. The Plaintiffs contended that disclaimers for implied warranties were ineffective due to their use of the wording “Used, As Is,” rather than specifically utilizing the word “merchantability” within their disclaimer, as Plaintiffs asserted, is required by statute.
In support of their argument, Plaintiffs rely on a similar, yet distinguishable case, McCormick Machinery, Inc. v. Julian E. Johnson & Sons, Inc., 523 So. 2d 651 (Fla. 1st DCA) (hereinafter “McCormick”) wherein the Court found that because there was no mention of the word merchantability within disclaimers, “that particular implied warranty remained in effect.” Id. at 654. In applying the facts of McCormick to H&H Laundry, the Court noted the material differences in the disclaiming language within the contracts of the parties to each case, particularly the use of the wording “As Is” in the latter, and the lack of such wording in the former. In interpreting the statute in its entirety, the H&H Laundry Court held that “[t]he subsection that requires use of the word “merchantability” to disclaim that particular implied warranty, Fla. Stat. § 672.316(2), explicitly makes its requirement subject to Fla. Stat. § 672.316(3), which defines the term “as is” as one that operates to exclude all implied warranties.”
Apart from issues with disclaiming language within the commercial laundry sales contract, allegations pertaining to breaches in implied warranties must be properly asserted within the pleading in order to survive dismissal. For example, a Plaintiff cannot properly support a claim for breach of an implied warranty of fitness through an assertion that the Defendant has failed to meet requirements for disclaiming the implied warranty of merchantability. Further, a Plaintiff must specifically assert a claim for breach of implied warranty of merchantability, if Plaintiff intends to form the basis of their argument on the procedural components of the statutory requirements for disclaimer of a particular type of implied warranty. As the court noted in H&H Laundry, “[u]nlike the situation with the implied warranty of merchantability, a disclaimer of an implied warranty of fitness does not require that the seller mention any particular word or phrase, such as “fitness”.” Id., citing Fla. Stat. § 672.316(2). More notably, the H&H Laundry Court pointed out the Plaintiffs’ failure to specifically assert a claim for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability.
Several significant directives pertaining to commercial laundry disputes can be grasped from the discussion in H&H Laundry. First, drafting parties to commercial laundry sales contracts should have the aforethought of preventing civil litigation through the use of effective disclaimer(s). By taking proactive measures, such as seeking Legal support services and/or consulting services provided by a commercial laundry expert, contract drafters can ensure compliance. Second, where commercial laundry disputes necessitate the filing of a cause of action, claimants must be cautious in the assertion of any and all appropriate breach of implied warranty claims. Third, asserted claims must be supported, or defended, through the presentation of relevant evidence having a direct relation with the claim. Consultation with a legal expert employed in the field of commercial laundry litigation can provide the parties to such actions with insight as to anticipated pleading and/or evidentiary issues as they relate to potential claims and available defenses.
By: Alicia McKnight