The Texas Supreme Court has finally put to rest the question of whether the implied warranty to repair or modify tangible goods or property in a good and workmanlike manner can only be brought by a consumer under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) or whether it can be brought under the common law as well. The Court held it could in fact be brought under both, in Nghiem v. Sajib, 2019 WL 406123 (Tex.), 1 (Tex., 2019). This is significant because a consumer must bring an action under the DTPA for the breach of this implied warranty within two years or the action will be barred by the DTPA two-year statute of limitations. On the other hand, it appears that a consumer has up to four years to bring an action for breach of this implied warranty under the common law before being barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Further, there are additional criteria that must be met to bring a claim under the DTPA that do not have to be met under the common law.
In the Ngheiem case, the consumer’s airplane was damaged in a crash-landing when the airplane engine failed. The consumer made a claim against the company that had serviced the airplane for years and made repairs to it immediately before the crash. The consumer alleged that the defendant company breached the common law implied warranty to make repairs in a good and workmanlike manner. The defendant company alleged that the consumer’s claim could only be brought under the DTPA and not under common law. Therefore, the claim was barred by the DTPA two-year statute of limitations because the consumer waited too long to file the lawsuit. The trial court agreed and rendered judgment for the defendant and court of appeals affirmed.
The Texas Supreme Court granted the consumer’s petition for review and held that this implied warranty could be brought both under the common law and the DTPA. Since the consumer brought the action under the common law, the claims were not barred by the DTPA two-year statute of limitations.
The result of this opinion is that it will give consumers including large corporations who may not qualify for consumer status under the DTPA the right to bring an action for breach of this implied warranty. Further, it should also give consumers up to four years from the date of the breach to bring this action.