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Vlases v. Montgomery Ward & Co. - 377 F.2d 846 (3d Cir. 1967)


What the implied warranty sections of 12A P.S. §§ 2-314 and 2-315 require is not evidence that the defects should or could have been uncovered by the seller but only that the goods upon delivery were not of a merchantable quality or fit for their particular purpose. If those requisite proofs are established, the only exculpatory relief afforded by §§ 2-314 and 2-315 is a showing that the implied warranties were modified or excluded by specific language under 12A P.S. § 2-316. Lack of skill or foresight on the part of the seller in discovering the product's flaw was never meant to bar liability. The gravamen is not so much with what precautions were taken by the seller but rather with the quality of the goods contracted for by the buyer. The general provisions of 12A P.S. § 1-102(3) state that standards which are manifestly unreasonable may not be disclaimed and prevents the enforcement of unconscionable sales where the goods exchanged are found to be totally worthless.


Plaintiff Paul Vlases purchased one-day old chicks from defendant Montgomery Ward. Plaintiff then placed the chicks in a newly constructed coop with new equipment. The chickens all died from avian leucosis. Plaintiff then charged defendant with breaching the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose under §§ 2-314 and 2-315. A verdict was returned in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $23,028.77. Defendant appealed, arguing that an action for breach of implied warranties will not lie for the sale of one-day-old chicks were there was no human skill, knowledge or foresight that would enable the producer or supplier to prevent the occurrence of the disease, to detect its presence or to care for the sickness if it was present.


Was defendant liable for the breach of implied warranties, notwithstanding the fact that leucosis was undetectable?




The Court held that regardless of the fact that leukosis was undetectable, the defendant was liable for delivery of commercially inferior goods. According to the Court, a jury could have reasonably concluded that the chicks were diseased at the time of delivery, which resulted in their premature demise or the end of egg production, from expert testimony of the low probability of infection in chicks raised in a virus free environment.


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