Does New York State allow punitive damages on the implied warranty?

Asked about 2 years ago - Troy, NY

I used a product which is unfit to be used because such product contains hazardous chemicals that caused me an injury. I have a cause of action under the uniform commercial code which has a four year statute of limitations. The company failed to provide proper label warnings while their competitors have proper warning labels of foreseeable risks on same similar product. Both products contain same chemicals. My understanding from my research is that an implied warranty is a contract. Also, my research indicates to me that damages arising from the breach of a contract is ordinarily limited to the contract damages necessary to redress the private wrong, but that punitive damages may be recoverable if necessary to vindicate a public right. The product is on all store shelves. The company has engaged in gross and morally reprehensible and of such wanton dishonesty as to imply a criminal indifference to civil obligations.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Jeffrey Ira Schwimmer

    Contributor Level 19

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I am of the opininion that this is not a "breach of impilied warranty" claim, so much as it would be a "failure to warn" claim. In the scenario you provide, and without knowing more (ie- how the product injured you and what injuries you suffered) it would be stil unlikely that you would succeed in getting punitive damages, unless you could prove, for example, that there were numerous other incidents of identical injuries under identical circumstances that the company new about and still did not intentionally provide a proper warning. By your indication, there are similar products on the market, made of the same chemicals, it just that this one did not give as good a warning as the others. Even then, this is not a scenario inlvovlng a defective product from the standpoint of its manufacture. As an aside, strict product liability cases, even ones based upon a failure to warn or even breach of warranty, are very expensive to litigate and only worth the effort, so to speak, if the injury is significant and permanent.

  2. Craig A. Post

    Contributor Level 17

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . As a general rule, the UCC does not provide for punitive damages and NY courts are generally not in favor of punitive awards in contract settings. Breach of implied waranty claims ofen sound in strict products liability, a tort based claim for which punitive damages may be available. This area of the law is somewhat sophisticated and you should really have an attorney familiar with NY products claims on your side before proceeding further.

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