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A.B. Parker v. Bell Ford, Inc.

    Brief Fact Summary. An individual purchased a truck from the Ford Motor Company.  The truck experienced excessive tire wear and the purchaser brought suit as a result.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Section 7-2-607(3)(a) of Alabama's adaptation of the Uniform Commercial (the "UCC") requires that a buyer of a good "notify the seller of breach."  If the requisite notification does not occur, "the Plaintiff is barred from any remedy".

    Facts. The Plaintiff, A.B. Parker (the "Plaintiff"), purchased a pickup truck from the Defendant, Bell Ford, Inc. (the "Defendant"), in 1979 for $6,155.40.  The Defendant provided the Plaintiff with a warranty for the vehicle.  After about 4000 miles of use, the Plaintiff began to experience excessive tire wear.  Certain work was allegedly done on the truck by Combs & Daily, an alignment shop, but the Defendant was not told about the work.  However, even after the work, the tire wear did not subside.  Prior to filing suit on July 1, 1980, the Plaintiff never contacted the Defendant about the problem again.  After suit was filed, the vehicle was inspected and it was discovered that the Plaintiff's truck had a defective wheel housing.  The Plaintiff alleged mis¬repre¬senta¬tion, breach of contract, and breach of implied warranty of merchantability.  The Plaintiff appeals the trial courts directed verdict in favor of the Defendant.

    Issue. Does §7-2-607(3)(a) of the UCC operate as a condition to the Plaintiff bringing suit?

    Held. Yes, notice is a condition to recovery.  Section 7-2-607(3)(a) of the UCC requires that a buyer of a good "notify the seller of breach."  If the requisite notification does not occur "the Plaintiff is barred from any remedy".  The requisite notice is "the degree of notice which at least comports with the notice an ordinary tortfeasor would have of his breach of duty."  There are two reasons for the notice requirement.  First, "express notice opens the way for settlement through negotiation between the parties."  Second, "proper notice minimizes the possibility of prejudice to the seller by giving him 'ample opportunity to cure the defect, inspect the goods, investigate the claim or do whatever may be necessary to properly defend himself or minimize his damages while the facts are fresh in the minds of the parties."  Here, the Defendant had no notice that the work done on the truck by Combs & Daily.  As such, the plaintiff does not have a valid claim.  The court also sets forth another reason for the notice requirement, "minimizing the buyer's loss and reducing the seller's own liability to the buyer."

    Discussion. This case offers an informative discussion of the notice requirement under one state's adaptation of the Uniform Commercial Code.


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