“Privity,” or “privity of contract,” denotes the legal relationship that exists when two or more parties are bound by a legally enforceable contract. In simpler terms, a contract is unable to bestow rights or impose obligations upon individuals who are not parties to that specific contract.
Challenging the Privity Barrier
But what happens when you acquire a product that comes with an express warranty, essentially a contractual agreement, from the manufacturer, yet the product is sold to you by a dealer with whom you do not have a direct contractual relationship?
Legal Precedents in Florida
Florida courts “have expressly enforced written warranties in suits . . . against manufacturers where privity did not exist between the manufacturer and the vehicle owner.” Rentas v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 936 So. 2d 747, 751 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006); see also Fischetti v. America Isuzu Motors, Inc., 918 So. 2d 974, 976 (“reject[ing] the manufacturer’s argument that privity between the consumer and the manufacturer is required for all claims of money damages under its express warranty”).
The Role of Florida’s Third District Courts of Appeal
Florida’s Third District Courts of Appeal has stated this clearly established rule. In Mesa v. BMW, the court was faced with a manufacturer warranty which “extended coverage” to the first retail purchaser, and each subsequent purchaser. Mesa v. BMW of N. Am., LLC, 904 So. 2d 450, 457 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005). The court reasoned that under Florida law, the plaintiff, as a subsequent purchaser, was “entitled to enforce the rights arising from the manufacturer’s express warranty”. Id; see also Rentas 936 So. 2d at 751 (holding that “the trial court erred when it determined that the plaintiffs had to be in privity with the manufacturer to recover for breach of the express warranty”).
Manufacturer’s Privity Defense
Despite firmly established legal precedents, manufacturers often invoke the absence of privity to deny warranty claims. Given that manufacturers typically do not directly sell to end consumers, this would effectively shield from all warranty claims, rendering their warranties meaningless.
Expert Legal Guidance
For more expert legal guidance on warranties, contract actions or any other business disputes, contact one of our experienced attorneys at 305-570-2208. You can also email our lead attorney Eduardo directly at email@example.com.
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