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Szajna v. General Motors Corp.

OPINION FILED JANUARY 16, 1985.

JOHN L. SZAJNA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James C. Murray, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE PERLIN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied February 19, 1985.

John L. Szajna (plaintiff) appeals from the trial court's dismissal with prejudice of his second amended three-count complaint (complaint) which sought a declaratory judgment and damages. Plaintiff, the purchaser of a new 1976 Pontiac Ventura car, filed this action against General Motors Corporation (GMC) on behalf of himself and other persons similarly situated, contending that 1976 Pontiac Ventura cars were equipped with "inferior" transmissions designed for use not in the heavier Venturas, but in the lighter and smaller "Chevette" model cars. As a result, plaintiff alleges the value of 1976 Pontiac Venturas was "lessened." Damages were premised solely on economic loss and not injury to person or property.

Count I of the complaint asserted liability on an alleged breach of an implied warranty pursuant to section 2-314 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 26, par. 2-314) and section 110 of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty-Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act (15 U.S.C. § 2310(d) (1976)). Plaintiff contended that because of the allegedly inferior transmissions, cars sold as "1976 Pontiac Venturas" would not "pass without objection in the trade" and were not "of fair average quality within the description."

Count II of the complaint asserted liability on an alleged breach of an express warranty pursuant to section 2-313 of the UCC (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 26, par. 2-313). Plaintiff contended that the trade name "1976 Pontiac Ventura" was a "description" of goods which gave rise to an express warranty that the car would be equipped with a transmission of a particular "kind or quality."

Count III of the complaint alleged common law fraud against GMC. Plaintiff contended that the trade name "1976 Pontiac Ventura" was a "statement of material fact" which was in part untrue because the transmissions in the Ventura were not appropriate for those cars.

In March 1980, the trial court granted GMC's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action, but granted plaintiff leave to file a third-amended complaint. In response plaintiff filed a motion requesting the trial court to reconsider its order of dismissal or, in the alternative, to state conclusions of law in support of its order. The court thereupon entered an order dismissing the complaint with prejudice and containing the following "conclusions of law":

"[RELATING TO COUNT I]

(1) Under the Illinois law, privity of contract is a prerequisite to suit for breach of implied warranty alleging economic loss;

(2) The Magnuson-Moss Act expressly incorporates state law privity requirements in implied warranty suits under the Act by defining `implied warranty' as those implied warranties `arising under state law' in 15 U.S.C. § 2301(7);

(3) In this case, Illinois law applies to plaintiff's implied warranty claims;

(4) No privity of contract exists between the plaintiff and defendant General Motors Corporation;

(a) The warranty attached to the second amended complaint is a limited warranty running to the ultimate purchaser, but does not give rise to the ...


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