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Sadat v. American Motors Corp.

OPINION FILED APRIL 12, 1983.

ROXANNE SADAT, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

AMERICAN MOTORS CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Richard L. Curry, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE STAMOS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

JUSTICE STAMOS delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff Roxanne Sadat appeals from the trial court's dismissal of her complaint for a mandatory injunction. The complaint sought an order which would have compelled defendant American Motors Corporation to comply with the terms of a warranty which it extended to plaintiff in connection with her purchase of a new American Motors car. Plaintiff's sole contention on appeal is that the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (the Act) (15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq. (1976)) authorizes consumers to maintain an action for an injunction to enforce the terms of a warranty without requiring them to plead or prove that irreparable harm will occur if the injunction does not issue or that the remedy at law is inadequate, and that therefore the trial court erred in dismissing her complaint for failure to plead the prerequisites for equitable relief.

On April 3, 1979, plaintiff purchased a new 1979 AMC Concord from an AMC dealer. The car was covered by a 1979 "AMC Full 12 month/12,000 mile New Car Warranty" which was issued by defendant.

During the period that the warranty was in effect, the car exhibited several defects. The brakes often faded or were difficult to engage, the steering column vibrated excessively, the transmission slipped from park to reverse, the engine leaked oil, the car dieseled after the engine was turned off, and the passenger compartment was permeated with the smell of exhaust.

Plaintiff brought the car to the dealer on seven occasions, and the dealer's mechanics attempted to repair the various defects. None of these defects, however, were ever satisfactorily repaired.

Section 104(a)(4) of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act provides that a full warranty, such as the warranty in the instant case, must meet certain minimum standards, one of which is the provision that:

"if the product (or component part thereof) contains a defect or malfunction after a reasonable number of attempts by the warrantor to remedy defects or malfunctions in such product, such warrantor must permit the consumer to elect either a refund for, or replacement without charge of, such product or part (as the case may be)." 15 U.S.C. § 2304(a)(4) (1976).

After all attempts to repair the car had failed, plaintiff requested a replacement without charge. Defendant refused to replace the car, and plaintiff brought a complaint seeking a mandatory injunction which would require defendant to replace the car or give her its cash equivalent. Plaintiff's complaint also sought a judgment for costs.

On April 8, 1982, the trial court granted defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint, holding that the complaint was insufficient in that it did not allege that irreparable harm would occur if the injunction were not granted, or that there was no adequate remedy at law.

Plaintiff appeals from that order.

The sole question presented by this appeal is whether a complaint for a mandatory injunction which does not allege the traditional prerequisites for equitable relief may nevertheless state a cause of action under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. (15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq. (1976).) Plaintiff contends that the congressional intent of the Act is that consumers should be able to obtain a "statutory injunction" against warrantors who fail to fulfill obligations imposed on them by the Act, and that such relief should be granted merely on a showing that a violation of the Act has occurred. Defendant contends that the fact that equitable relief is available to consumers under the Act does not authorize the courts> to dispense with the traditional requirements for the granting of such relief.

Section 110(d) of the Act provides that:

"a consumer who is damaged by the failure of a supplier, warrantor, or service contractor to comply with any obligation under this chapter, or under a written warranty, implied warranty, or service contract, may bring suit ...


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