The North Carolina Court of Appeals has thrown out a product liability suit against a recreational vehicle manufacturer and the manufacturer of an AC-DC power converter unit alleged to be defective.
The court ruled that both the manufacturer and the component supplier are protected because the warranty claims were filed too late.
Luther and Sudie Moore bought a new 1989 Sportscoach Cross Country RV manufactured by Coachmen Industries Inc. and covered by a limited warranty.
In 1993, friends who were using the RV turned on the generator and fan for the ceiling air conditioner unit. A fire started and destroyed the RV. No one was injured.
The Moores sued Coachmen, its former Sportscoach Corp. subsidiary, and MagneTek Inc., which made the power converter the Moores' expert witness blamed for the fire.
A Guilford County Superior Court judge dismissed the suit.
The appeals court in Raleigh agreed, saying the warranty's one-year limit had expired before the breach-of-warranty claims were filed. That warranty time limit applies not only to Coachmen and Sportscoach, but also to MagneTek as a component supplier, it held.
'The Moores bargained for a complete and functional recreational vehicle, not for wheels, electrical converter box, stereo and so on,' the court said. 'They had no reasonable expectation that MagneTek or any of the other manufacturers of unbranded components would resolve any problem they encountered with the vehicle.'
The court also said the Moores cannot recover damages on their related negligence claims.
Larry Moore of Greensboro, a lawyer for Coachmen, said the defendants 'hotly contested whether there was a defect' in the RV. Moore, who is not related to the plaintiffs, also said most of the claimed financial loss was covered by the owners' insurance.