Disclaimer of Warranties: BROWN SPRINKLER CORP. V. PLUMBERS SUPPLY CO. (COA 9/21/2007)

BROWN SPRINKLER CORP. V. PLUMBERS SUPPLY CO.
BUSINESS LAW:  UCC; IMPLIED WARRANTY DISCLAIMER; PRIVITY

2006-CA-001667
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING
PANEL: COMBS, PRESIDING; ACREE CONCUR; TAYLOR CONCURS IN RESULT ONLY
JEFFERSON COUNTY
DATE RENDERED: 09/21/2007

In June 2001, Brown Sprinkler discovered that water from the sprinkler system had begun to leak from some of the sprinkler heads that it had installed at the Lexington project. Brown contacted Globe directly. A Globe representative asked Brown to remove 50 sprinkler heads and to ship them to the manufacturer for inspection. Instead of just 50 sprinkler heads, Brown removed and shipped to Globe 1,825 sprinkler heads — approximately ¼ of those originally installed.

Brown’s complaint included claims for fraud and breach of warranty under Kentucky’s version of the Uniform Commercial Code.   Globe and Plumbers Supply filed motions for summary judgment, both of which were granted.

The trial court concluded that Plumbers Supply and Globe were also entitled to judgment as a matter of law with respect to Brown’s breach of warranty claims. The court observed that Plumbers Supply had clearly and conspicuously disclaimed all warranties implied by law.  The trial court did not err by concluding that Plumbers Supply’s disclaimer of implied warranties met the requirements of the statute. The court cited the statutory definition of conspicuous and noted that the disclaimer was located on the front of its customer invoice in readable size print –  disclaiming “all implied warranties including any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular use.”  Since, the language of the disclaimer is clear and adequate, and its presence is readily noticeable. Plumbers Supply did not make any implied warranties as a matter of law,  the court’s summary judgment cannot be reversed on this basis.

The General Assembly expressly adopted the privity requirement, and the statute clearly limits warranty protections to those engaged in a buyer-seller relationship. Thus, the COA cannot modify or expand the impact of the legislation regardless of whatever compelling arguments may be made as to public policy concerns.

By Michael Stevens

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