A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protects lessees as well as purchasers of new vehicles. The ruling was made in a lawsuit against American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
"It is unlikely that the auto leasing market would have developed as it has if prospective lessees were denied the right to enforce the manufacturers' new car warranties," said the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court.
"Moreover, if a manufacturer's written warranty does not apply to a lessee, the dealer should not supply its leasing customer with the written warranty at all, and the manufacturer should include a clear disclaimer in the written warranty, stating that it is not applicable to a leasing customer."
The decision conflicts with an interpretation of the Magnuson-Moss law by the highest court in neighboring New York.
The New Jersey court reinstated a lawsuit accusing Honda of breaching its warranty obligations on a 1999 Passport SUV that Christopher Ryan leased from Burns Honda in Marlton.
The lawsuit also seeks triple damages for fraud, based on Honda's position that lessees aren't included under Magnuson-Moss, says Ryan's lawyer, Robert Silverman of Haddonfield.