An Illinois appeals court has refused to reinstate a breach-of-warranty and class-action consumer-protection lawsuit involving allegedly defective rear defrosters in 1999 Chrysler Sebring convertibles.
A unanimous Appellate Court of Illinois panel found insufficient evidence that DaimlerChrysler Motors Corp. knew that a defect existed when Joseph and Patricia Evitts bought their car new in May 1999.
In addition, the owners failed to request repairs until after their 3-year/36,000-mile warranty had expired, the panel said.
The lawsuit alleged that the rear defroster had a defect that caused its wires to separate from the window under stress from the repeated operation of the convertible top.
In January 2002 DaimlerChrysler issued a technical service bulletin addressing the defect and its repairs.
The plaintiffs' car had more than 44,000 miles when they first brought it in for repair of the defroster a month after the bulletin. The defroster eventually was replaced four times under an extended service contract, according to the decision.
The lawsuit accused DaimlerChrysler and Chrysler Service Contracts Inc., which issued the service contract, of warranty and consumer fraud violations. The defendants denied liability, and a Cook County Circuit Court judge dismissed the case without trial.
The appellate court unanimously upheld that ruling.
Although DaimlerChrysler had issued technical service bulletins covering 1996-98 model years, "there is no indication the defendants would have had reason to believe" that 1999 Sebring convertibles also would have the alleged defect, wrote Justice Alan Greiman for the three-member panel.
The plaintiffs did not present proof that DaimlerChrysler had concealed the defect, the court said.
Finally, the court held that the extended service contract wasn't a warranty but merely a service plan, and that the defroster had been replaced or repaired under that contract.
DaimlerChrysler assistant general counsel Steven Hantler said: "We are pleased that the Illinois appellate and trial courts agreed that lawsuit was without merit."
Plaintiffs' lawyer Daniel Edelman of Chicago said he did not know whether there would be a further appeal.
You may e-mail Eric Freedman at