Cases & Deals

Goodman Manufacturing summary judgment against proposed class action in air conditioning units case is affirmed by Tenth Circuit

Clients Goodman Manufacturing Company L.P.

On June 27, 2008, the Northern District of Oklahoma granted a motion for summary judgment filed by Jones Day client Goodman Manufacturing Company L.P. in a proposed class action seeking damages for breach of express warranty. The action proposed a nationwide class of current and former owners of approximately 800,000 air conditioning units manufactured in 2000 with allegedly defective paint. The plaintiff sought repair and replacement costs for all 800,000 units without regard to whether any particular unit was experiencing a problem as a result of the alleged defect. We filed a motion for summary judgment on the named plaintiff's claim, along with its class opposition brief. After hearing oral argument on both motions, the Court granted the motion for summary judgment, found the class certification motion moot, and entered final judgment in the matter. The Court held that the named plaintiff's claim was barred for three reasons: (i) the plaintiff's warranty expired before any alleged defect in her air conditioner manifested; (ii) the plaintiff failed to satisfy the statutory notice requirement under Texas law; and (iii) the defendant's warranty was limited to repair or replacement and could not have been breached because the plaintiff never presented any defective part for exchange under the terms of the warranty. On June 3, 2009, after oral argument, the 10th Circuit affirmed the district court, holding that Texas law does not allow breach of express warranty claims for unmanifested defects where the product has limited usable life. The court also held that use of an alleged defective paint in and of itself or microscopic corrosion from such paint that is not visible and does not affect the function of the air conditioning unit is not a manifested defect. Because the named plaintiff's unit did not require service or repair during her warranty period, and because Goodman's expert found no evidence of unusual deterioration or corrosion of the unit due to the use of the paint, the plaintiff "unit remained free from defect during its warranty period, and therefore she received precisely what she bargained for." Since the 10th Circuit agreed that plaintiff did not experience a manifested defect during her warranty period, they did not reach plaintiff's other appellate points.

Angel v. Goodman Manufacturing Company, L.P., No. 08-5076, 2009 WL 1532344 (10th Cir. June 3, 2009)