303-830-1212

Winnebago Case Update

For those manufacturers and sellers interested in enforcing the terms of a product warranty, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals provided good authority for enforcement of precise terms prior to filing any suit. The Court also recognized clearly the distinction between Winnebago, the manufacturer, and its dealers.

In Platt v. Winnebago Industries, the Court affirmed summary judgment for Winnebago because the buyer/Plaintiff had not complied with the conditions of the warranty prior to filing suit.  See Platt v. Winnebago Industries, Inc., 960 F.3d 1264 (10th Cir. 2020).  The case was decided under Colorado state law and the Magnuson Moss Act.  In essence, the Court strictly enforced the terms of the warranty.

In 2016, Plaintiffs Mr. and Mrs. Platt, purchased a 2016 Winnebago Era RV that came with a New Vehicle Limited Warranty.  Plaintiffs complained that the vehicle had numerous problems that were not solved by the dealer. The warranty provided a two-step process to obtain repairs.  First, the owner was required to present the motorhome to an authorized Winnebago service facility along with a written list of problems for repair.  Second, if the authorized repairs did not resolve the issues, the owner was required to provide written notice to Winnebago Owner Relations with a list of the defects.  Before an owner could claim breach of warranty, the owner was required to provide Winnebago an opportunity to repair the motor home; failure to do so voided the warranty.

Upon discovering defects in their motor home, Plaintiffs took it to an authorized Winnebago dealership on numerous occasions for repair, but did not present the vehicle to Winnebago for repairs. Plaintiffs sued instead, apparently upon advice of counsel that presentation to Winnebago was not necessary, regardless of the provision in the warranty requiring just that.

Winnebago prevailed at the summary judgment stage because of three key provisions in the limited warranty.  First, the two-step repair process created a condition precedent to any claim of breach. The repair process provided Winnebago the opportunity to repair the motor home before any suit could be filed.   If the buyer failed to comply with the stated procedures the warranty would be rendered void.   Second, distinction between Winnebago and its authorized dealers reinforced the repair process.  This distinction countered Plaintiffs assertions that service by authorized dealers served as Winnebago’s opportunity to repair the motor home.  Third, Winnebago controlled the extent of liability by incorporating language that made the warranty the exclusive and sole remedy available to the buyer.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals began by interpreting the warranty and found Plaintiff failed to comply with the warranty two-step repair process.  In effect, claims under the Magnuson-Moss Act and Colorado state law failed because Winnebago was deprived the opportunity to make the repairs.  Claims under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act failed for two reasons. First, the court found that Winnebago’s brochure information, though incomplete, encouraged buyers to see their dealer for complete warranty information.  Second, Plaintiff was offered the opportunity to review the warranty but refused to do so.  The Circuit Court affirmed summary judgment on behalf of Winnebago.

303-830-1212
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1700 Broadway, Suite 1020
Denver, CO 80290

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