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Law School Case Brief

Baxter v. Ford Motor Co. (1932) - 168 Wash. 456, 12 P.2d 409 (1932)

Rule:

A purchaser has a remedy against a manufacturer because of damages suffered by reason of a failure of goods to comply with the manufacturer's representations as to the existence of qualities which they did not in fact possess, when the absence of such qualities were not readily discoverable, even though there was no privity of contract between the purchaser and the manufacturer.

Facts:

Plaintiff purchased a Model A Ford town sedan from defendant St. John Motors, a Ford dealer, who had acquired the automobile in question by purchase from defendant Ford Motor Company. Plaintiff claims that representations were made to him by both defendants that the windshield of the automobile was made of non-shatterable glass which would not break, fly or shatter. A small rock hit the windshield causing it to shatter and plaintiff lost his left eye. Plaintiff sued, and the trial court ordered judgment for both defendants. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the court erred in allowing the defendants to introduce in evidence the written contract of agency between the defendants. Moreover, the plaintiff contended that the court erred in refusing to admit in evidence certain catalogues and printed matter furnished by respondent Ford Motor Company to respondent St. John Motors for distribution and assistance in sales.

Issue:

Was the defendant dealer liable for the damage even though there were no warranties on the car?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

On appeal, the court affirmed judgment for St. John Motors because there was a provision in the contract that stated defendant dealer had made no warranties concerning the car. However, Ford Motor Company had printed up materials that claimed that the windshield was shatterproof, and the lower court refused to allow in this evidence. In this case, the Court held that the evidence was improperly excluded even though there was no privity of contract between plaintiff and defendant manufacturer, because the windshield did not possess the qualities that defendant manufacturer had represented. Therefore, the Court reversed and ordered a new trial against defendant manufacturer.

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