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VOELKER v. PORSCHE CARS NORTH AMERICA

September 29, 2004.

DANIEL J. VOELKER, Plaintiff,
v.
PORSCHE CARS NORTH AMERICA, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRY LEINENWEBER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This case involves the lease of a Porsche 911 Turbo coupe (the "Porsche"). Before the Court is Plaintiff's (hereinafter, "Plaintiff") Motion for Summary Judgment on Count VIII of the Complaint for breach of a written warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act ("the Act"), 15 U.S.C. § 2301 et. seq against Defendants Porsche Cars of North America (hereinafter, "PCNA") and Copans Motors, Inc. d/b/a Champion Motors (hereinafter "Copans"). For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, and sua sponte GRANTS Summary Judgment in favor of the Defendants.

I. INTRODUCTION

  A. Factual Context

  The following material facts are either undisputed, deemed admitted by operation of Local Rule 56.1, or taken in the light most favorable to the non-movants. In June 2001, Plaintiff entered into a lease agreement with Copans and Porsche Financial Services ("PFS") for a 2001 Porsche 911 Turbo coupe automobile (the "Lease"). On September 20, 2001, Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident with Walter Dreikosen in Illinois. Dreikosen, while driving a sports-utility vehicle, ran a stop sign and, at a speed of about 25 miles per hour, collided into the driver's side of Plaintiff's Porsche. The side airbag system in the Porsche did not deploy during the collision. Plaintiff was injured from the collision, and the Porsche sustained substantial damages.

  According to the Lease, Plaintiff's Porsche was covered by a "standard manufacturer's new vehicle warranty" (Lease, ¶ 12). The Porsche's limited warranty, entitled "New Car Limited Warranty" (the "Limited Warranty"), was offered by PCNA and provided to Plaintiff, in writing, at the time that he entered into the lease. (DJV 0609, 0618). The Limited Warranty provided, in relevant part:
Warranty Coverage
Porsche Cars N.A. will repair or replace with a new or remanufactured part distributed by Porsche Cars N.A., at its sole option, any factory installed part that is defective in material or workmanship under normal use. (Normal vehicle use is described in this Booklet.) Warranty repairs will be made free of charge for parts and labor at an authorized Porsche automobile dealer . . .
To Get Warranty Service Under the New Car Limited Warranty
You must take your car, along with proof of purchase date, to an authorized Porsche automobile dealer during normal service hours. If the car is not driveable because of a defect covered by this warranty, call for Porsche Roadside Assistance and your Porsche automobile will be transported to the nearest authorized Porsche dealership . . . This Warranty Does Not Cover: . . . Improper repairs by someone other than Porsche Cars N.A. or its authorized dealers . . . Abuse, accident, acts of God, competition, racing or track use or other events beyond the control of Porsche Cars N.A. . . .
(DJV 0618-9) (emphasis added). The Limited Warranty booklet also contained the following disclaimer:
All of the Warranties described in this Booklet are Subject to the Following Limitations and Disclaimers
Responsibilities Porsche Cars N.A. disclaims any responsibility for loss of time or use of your car as well as any other incidental or consequential expenses or damages . . .
(DJV 0615).

  The collision rendered the Porsche inoperable, and it was towed to Europa Imports for repairs. Under the Lease, only Porsche parts could be utilized for repair. Plaintiff requested that Europa Imports order the necessary Porsche parts for repair from Porsche Exchange, an authorized Porsche dealer. After waiting two months, the replacement parts were still unavailable and the car remained inoperable. Plaintiff grew frustrated and informed PFS that he did not intend to make further payments on the car, and at some point stopped making payments. The replacement parts remained unavailable. Plaintiff voluntarily surrendered the Porsche on July 5, 2002.

  B. Procedural History and Seventh Circuit Decision

  Plaintiff filed an eighteen-count Complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County alleging that Defendants violated both federal and state laws. The Defendants removed the action to federal court. The Court granted Defendants' partial motions to dismiss and dismissed all of Plaintiff's federal claims and most of Plaintiff's state law claims. The Court then remanded the remaining state claims to state court. Plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed and upheld the Court's dismissal of each claim except Plaintiff's Count VIII for breach of a written warranty under the Act. See Voelker v. Porsche Cars North American, et. al, 353 F.3d 516 (7th Cir. 2003).

  In affirming the dismissal of Plaintiff's breach of express warranty claim under Illinois UCC and Lemon Law, the Seventh Circuit held that Plaintiff "failed to state a claim for breach of express warranty." Id. at 527. In so holding, the Court concluded that Plaintiff's Complaint alleged that the airbag's failure to deploy was a design defect, and that "Voelker points to no part of the record showing that a warranty against defective design was part of his contract with any defendant." Id. (emphasis added). The Seventh Circuit further concluded that the "New Car Limited Warranty was made by Porsche, not Copans." Id. at 526, n. 3. The Seventh Circuit also rejected Plaintiff's argument that Defendants' breached an express warranty to Plaintiff by failing to repair the car after the accident. Id. at 526.

  In affirming the dismissal of Plaintiff's implied warranty of merchantability claim under the Act, the Seventh Circuit concluded that PCNA was properly dismissed because there was no privity of contract between Plaintiff and PCNA. Id. at 525. The Seventh Circuit also affirmed the dismissal of Copans because the Lease contained a clear and conspicuous written disclaimer that "sheild[ed] Copans from suit for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability under Illinois law." Id. at 526.

  Despite its disposition of the implied warranty and express warranty claims as discussed above, the Seventh Circuit reversed the Court's dismissal of Count VIII of Plaintiff's complaint for breach of written warranty under the Act. The Seventh Circuit disagreed with the Court's disposition of the claim because the Court dismissed on the grounds that as a lessee, Plaintiff did not qualify as a "consumer" under the Act. The Seventh Circuit held that "Plaintiff may proceed as a category three consumer regarding his claim for breach of written warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Act." Id. at 525. Plaintiff now seeks summary judgment on Count VIII.

  II. ...


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