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Sadat v. American Motors Corp.





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Richard L. Curry, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied November 30, 1984.

Plaintiff, Roxanne Sadat, filed a complaint for injunction against defendant, American Motors Corporation (AMC), in the circuit court of Cook County. Plaintiff alleged a breach of her automobile's full AMC warranty and sought a mandatory injunction, compelling AMC to replace her automobile and pay attorney fees and costs pursuant to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act (commonly known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) (Act) (15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq. (1976)). The circuit court dismissed plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a cause of action for injunction. The appellate court upheld the circuit court's dismissal of the complaint. (114 Ill. App.3d 376.) We allowed plaintiff's petition for leave to appeal. 87 Ill.2d R. 315(a).

This appeal presents one question: Must a complaint for injunctive relief, seeking to obtain remedies authorized by the Act, include allegations of irreparable harm and an inadequate remedy at law?

Plaintiff's complaint for injunction indicates that she entered into a retail installment contract with an AMC dealer for the purchase of a new 1979 Concord, manufactured by the defendant. A written "1979 Full 12-Month/12,000 Mile New Car Warranty" was issued to the plaintiff at the time of purchase. The complaint reveals that while the car was under warranty it was plagued with a number of serious mechanical defects. The engine leaked oil. The steering column vibrated excessively. The transmission would slip from park to reverse while the car was stopped. The engine dieseled when the ignition was turned off. The brakes would intermittently fade or were difficult to engage. An exhaust-like odor was apparent in the automobile.

Although the plaintiff took her automobile to an AMC dealer seven times, mechanics, authorized by the defendant to make repairs under its warranty, were unable to remedy the defects. At this point, plaintiff requested a replacement automobile, without charge, pursuant to section 104(a)(4) of the Act (15 U.S.C. § 2304(a)(4) (1976)). When the defendant refused to honor this request, plaintiff filed the complaint for injunction, without alleging that her remedy at law was inadequate and she would suffer irreparable harm if injunctive relief were not granted. The prayer for relief specifically requested the court to order the "Defendant to replace Plaintiff's automobile with a new, 1979, 2-door, Concord automobile, or a comparable or superior automobile, or its cash equivalent."

The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint and order the action transferred to the law division. In support of its motion, the defendant argued that Federal courts have consistently found that questions regarding remedies under the Act are governed by State law. Thus, to state a cause of action for injunctive relief under Illinois law, a plaintiff must plead and prove, in addition to other allegations, that he will suffer irreparable harm and is without an adequate remedy at law. Further, the defendant maintained that plaintiff's complaint conceded the adequacy of her remedy at law by requesting a refund of the purchase price of the car as an alternative to replacement.

In response, the plaintiff contends that her complaint stated a cause of action for injunctive relief under sections 104(a)(4) and 110(d) of the Act (15 U.S.C. § 2304(a)(4), 2310(d)(1) (1976)). Section 104(a)(4) of the act provides in relevant part:

"(a) In order for a warrantor warranting a consumer product by means of a written warranty to meet the Federal minimum standards for warranty — [he must do the following:]

(4) 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).)

Section 110(d)(1) of the Act provides in relevant part:

"(1) Subject to subsections (a)(3) and (e) of this section, a consumer who is damaged by the failure of a supplier, warrantor, or service contractor to comply with any obligation under this chapter [15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq.], or under a written warranty, implied warranty, or service contract, may bring suit for damages and other legal and equitable relief — * * *." 15 U.S.C. § 2301(d)(1)(1976).

It is plaintiff's position that her case involves a statutory injunction rather than a common law injunction. As such, she maintains that she has fulfilled the statutory requirements necessary to state a prima facie violation of 15 U.S.C. § 2304(a)(4) entitling her to equitable relief pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d)(1) by alleging the following: the existence of a "full warranty"; defects occurring during the warranty period and continuing to the present; a reasonable number of attempts by the warrantor to repair the defects; her demand for a replacement or refund; and defendant's refusal to provide either remedy.

Defendant argues that statutes which authorize injunctive relief must do so explicitly. To illustrate, it refers to the section of the Act which specifically sets forth the conditions under which the Attorney General may obtain injunctive relief to prevent violations of the Act. (15 U.S.C. § 2310(c)(1) (1976).) In addition, defendant contends that case authority which ...

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