Appeals court: Jeep was 'reliable'

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Stall story

The issue: Owner sues dealership over Grand Cherokee that stalls.

Where it stands: Ohio Appeals Court backs dealership.

The Ohio Court of Appeals has rejected an implied warranty suit against a suburban Cleveland dealership involving a used 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee that repeatedly stalled.

The appeals panel unanimously upheld a lower court ruling in favor of Fairchild Chevrolet of Lakewood.

The Grand Cherokee had 68,419 miles when Millie Filipovic bought it in May 1999, according to the decision. The dealer provided a three-month, 3,000-mile limited warranty, and she brought it in for servicing several times.

Filipovic experienced a number of problems from June to September 1999, "the most vexing being the car's tendency to stall," the decision said.

When Fairfield failed to fix the stalling problem to her satisfaction, Filipovic revoked her acceptance of the vehicle and filed suit in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for breach of implied warranty of merchantability.

The suit sought to rescind the transaction with a full refund of all the money she had spent on the vehicle and cancellation of her loan, according to her lawyer, David Levin of Chicago. In the alternative, she sought to recover the diminished value of the vehicle.

The dealership denied liability. At mid-trial, after the plaintiff presented her case, the dealership asked the court to dismiss the case, which it did. Plaintiff appealed.

The appeals panel, in an opinion by Judge Michael Corrigan, noted that "although (plaintiff) complained that Fairchild did not fix the car, she did not offer any evidence to show what other steps she took to fix the car" after her dealings with Fairchild ended.

"Despite complaining that the car continued to stall, she drove it more than 20,000 miles in the 16 months after purchase," the court noted. …"The car provided her with reliable, if not perfect, transportation."

The court also said in order to support her claim of breach of merchantability, Filipovic would have had to prove "a loss of confidence in the vehicle," but failed to do so.

Fairchild's lawyer, John Reagan of Cleveland, said Filipovic failed to offer the dealership's warranty into evidence at trial and, without that document, she didn't have a legal claim.

Levin said his client has not decided whether to appeal further.

You can reach Eric Freedman at
Tags: Warranty

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