This reading of the Magnuson-Moss Act best serves Congress' goal of "better protecting consumers." H.R. Rep. 93-1107 (June 13, 1974). Plaintiffs here fit squarely within the definition of "consumer" in that they are entitled to enforce the warranty by the terms of 15 U.S.C. § 2301(3). If we then determine that this warranty does not qualify as a written warranty under the Act, there is nothing for the plaintiffs to enforce. Moreover, when selling the Hummer to Mister Leasing, defendant was aware that Mister Leasing was facilitating a lease and transferring possession of the vehicle to plaintiffs. It knew that plaintiffs would be the users of the vehicle and the only party who would likely seek to enforce the warranty. If they are unable to do so, the assurances of the manufacturer are empty — no party would be able to enforce the warranty.*fn1
This is not to say that all lessees of automobiles should be entitled to enforce the manufacturer's warranty. Each lessee gets the rights that he bargains for. In situations like this, however, where the sale of a vehicle is merely to facilitate a lease, the issuance of the warranty accompanies this sale, and the lessor explicitly transfers its rights in the warranty to the lessee — the lessee is protected by the Magnuson-Moss Act.
While not specifically briefed by the parties, we should look at plaintiff's claim for breach of implied warranty. No contractual privity exists between plaintiffs as lessees and defendant as the manufacturer. Implied warranty claims under Illinois law traditionally required privity between the claimant and the warrantor. Szajna v. General Motors Corp., 503 N.E.2d 760, 762 (Ill. 1987). The Illinois Supreme Court, however, adopted the rule that privity is not required where a consumer seeks to bring a claim based on an implied warranty if a Magnuson-Moss warranty is given. Id. at 769. Because we conclude that plaintiffs can enforce the terms of the written warranty, they may also seek to enforce an implied warranty.
Defendant relies on Valenti v. Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc., 773 N.E.2d 1199 (Ill.App. 1st Dist. 2002), arguing that plaintiffs cannot prove damages because they sold the vehicle for fair market value. In Valenti, the plaintiff purchased a vehicle, drove it for two-and-a-half years and 17,290 miles before trading in the vehicle. Id. at 1203. Plaintiff did not contradict defendant's assertions that she had sold the car for its fair market value. Id. at 1202. The court determined that she could not allege damages with enough specificity to survive a summary judgment motion because it appeared that, following the sale of the vehicle, she had no losses. Id. at 1202-03.
There are important differences between this case and Valenti. First, plaintiffs dispute that they received fair market value for the Hummer at trade-in. Both parties present differing estimates of the value of the vehicle, an issue of material fact.*fn2 Second, in Valenti, the plaintiff's only allegations were that she had lost money through the ownership of the vehicle. 773 N.E.2d at 1203. In the present case, plaintiffs have alleged that the vehicle was defective from the commencement of the lease agreement.
The measure of damages for a breach of warranty claim is the difference between the value of the property as warranted and the actual value on the date of the breach. Wheelock v. Berkeley, 27 N.E. 942 (1891); Felde v. Chrysler Credit Corp., 580 N.E.2d 191 (1991). This means that damages should be the difference in value at the time of plaintiff's acceptance. Felde, 580 N.E.2d at 198. Plaintiffs here claim that the vehicle was worth substantially less than the lease price at the time that they took possession. The fact that they were able to trade in the vehicle for a price similar to the Kelly Blue Book value is certainly circumstantial evidence as to the quality of the vehicle. At this time, however, a material issue of fact as to whether the vehicle was damaged still exists.
For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion for summary judgment is denied.